Branch Meeting

We are calling another Branch Meeting for Tuesday 13th Feb at 1 pm in the Wigoder Law Building, Moot Chamber. We will engage in further discussions concerning our industrial action strategy. In addition, we will be seeking to pass a motion concerning the establishment of a local hardship fund, in respect of which we need to be quorate. The motion is as follows:

“University of Kent UCU resolves to set up a local hardship fund.

University of Kent UCU will transfer £30,000 from its general funds to start the fund.

(b) Payments will only be made for losses of pay arising from the first 3 days of strike action in the 2018 USS industrial dispute, with a maximum payment of £50 per day of strike action. Further days of action are covered by the national fund.
(c) Applications to the fund must supply evidence of lost pay and explain how a payment will alleviate hardship. The application process will include a membership check and confirmation from the member that they will not receive more than the total loss from combined applications to UCU accredited funds.
(d) The branch will advertise a mechanism for members to donate to the hardship fund.
(e) Claims to the fund will be considered by a panel of three branch officers including the treasurer, Robert Jupe, and two of the following – Sian Lewis-Anthony (President), Owen Lyne (Secretary), Mark Dean (Deputy Secretary)
(f) All claims to the fund must be submitted within three months of the loss of pay concerned.
(g) Claims should be sent by internal mail (with copies of evidence, no original documents please) to Owen Lyne (SMSAS, Sibson Building) or by email (with electronic evidence attached, e.g. scanned documents) to
(h) All claims will be acknowledged on receipt. This acknowledgement will state the date of the meeting at which the claim will be considered and the likely timescale for the result to be communicated.”

Please make it a priority to attend this meeting – solidarity for those who are financially vulnerable is absolutely vital.

Please do continue to consult the UCU FAQs on the strike action. The current iteration can be found here:

University of Kent UCU update

Branch officers would like to welcome all the new members of the branch – 30 joining us in January alone – this blog is to update you all on some of our recent and upcoming activity.

  • Monday 22nd January – Industrial action ballot results released, strong YES vote for industrial action nationally and here at Kent
  • Tuesday 23rd January – Employers nationally, despite ballot result, force proposal through at USS to slash pension benefits
  • Tuesday 23rd January – Branch president Sian and branch deputy secretary Mark met with Kent Union sabbatical officers to discuss the USS dispute, explain our position and provide material to them to use in communications with students.
  • Wednesday 24th January – Sian and branch secretary Owen met with the Vice-Chancellor and the Director of Human Resources to discuss the dispute
  • Friday 26th January – Questions asked at University Court about USS dispute and further discussion between Owen and VC
  • Monday 29th January – Strikes dates formally announced and notified to the University
  • Tuesday 30th January – Branch officers meet to start local planning
    Wednesday 31st January – Branch officers meet representatives of campus GMB, Unison and Unite unions. Further planning meeting arranged for Fri 2nd Feb. Meeting open to all members announced for Mon 5th Feb in Canterbury and planning for meeting in Medway.
    Wednesday 31st January – National UCU publicises joint statement with NUS
  • Thursday 1st Feb – FAQs from national UCU expected very soon, after which local officers will advertise them and ask national UCU to update/clarify anything that members need further assistance on. We anticipate specific coverage of issues relating to staff on casualised contracts and hardship funds, and will certainly follow-up with local information on these, and many other, issues. UCU has produced a video for members to share with students.
  • Future events

    Monday 5th February – 12 noon until 1pm – open meeting in Moot Chamber, Wigoder Law Clinic

    Tuesday 6th February – Branch officers meeting regional UCU officials for further planning

    Wednesday 7th February – UCU Social, 12noon until 2pm, FREE LUNCH, Worcester Robing Room, Wigoder Law Clinic

    Saturday 10th February – UCU southeast regional meeting

    And much, much more to come!

    We do apologise if we will sometimes be slow to answer email at this time, but rest assured we are on the case,
    Best wishes,
    Owen, Mark and Sian

    Kent UCU Twitter link

    HOPE not hate

    On Wednesday 29th November, UCU at Kent were proud to host a workshop by HOPE not hate, led by Mr Owen Jones, their Head of Education. HOPE not hate is an advocacy group based in the United Kingdom that “campaigns to counter racism and fascism”, and to “combine first class research with community organising and grassroots actions to defeat hate groups at elections and to build community resilience against extremism.” Created in 2004 by Nick Lowles, the organization is backed by various politicians and celebrities and several trade unions.

    Following the Brexit vote, the number of hate crimes recorded by regional police forces in the UK rose by up to 100% and in the county of Kent, the figures were up by 60%. There has been a rise in the number of racially and religiously-motivated crimes reported to police, including assaults and arson. Community groups representing EU nationals in the UK have warned about the potential for an undercurrent of xenophobia to spread as talks with Brussels get underway regarding Brexit. The head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, David Isaac, has also said he is ‘hugely concerned’ about a backlash against European citizens as the Governments EU withdrawal negotiations take place. The Government’s recent race audit has found huge gulfs in experience in sectors such as health, housing, criminal justice and education.

    During the workshop attended by approximately 40 members of staff and postgraduates at Kent, Owen recounted the historical roots behind HOPE not hate. As Head of Education, Owen regularly discusses the concept of hate and bigoted behaviour with students everyday across the country teaching them about day-to-day prejudice, discriminatory language, signs of radicalisation and discussing society’s shared values. Owen described the importance or realizing that banter is not just banter and racist jokes are not okay. Owen outlined concepts relating to power, prejudice, racism and hate. Through exploring case studies relating to the tragic murders of Lee Rigby and Jo Cox, the audience explored how such concepts of power and racism are triggered and subsequently reported. Using the Pyramid of Hate, Jones teaches how certain phrases reinforce stereotypes and normalize prejudice. Participants were encouraged to stop using discriminatory language but also to challenge their friends to do the same. The workshop led by Owen was truly informative, insightful and thought provoking.

    To find out more about HOPE not hate’s education work or to book Owen Jones or his team, email

    Challenging Workplace Bullying and Harassment week

    Next week 13th – 17th November is the UCU national Challenging Workplace Bullying and Harassment week. Very apt in light of recent news nationally and internationally.

    Locally, we are delighted to invite you to a talk by Carmel Sunley to be held in the Moot Chamber, Wigoder (Kent Law Clinic) Building on Canterbury campus at 13:00 on Wednesday 15th November.

    Carmel is a local solicitor who specialises in employment law and she will be talking about both the law relating to Harassment and Bullying in the workplace and suggesting what good practice in the workplace could look like. The talk is co-hosted by Kent Law Clinic and will be useful for Clinic Students as well as UCU colleagues and Reps.

    All are warmly invited.

    TUC Dying to Work Charter

    Our branch is delighted that as a result of our efforts, the University of Kent yesterday became the first university in the UK to commit itself to the TUC Dying to Work Charter. The Charter commits the University to “support, protect and enable” an employee with a diagnosis of terminal illness who chooses to remain in work, where it is reasonable to do so.

    These links will take you to the University’s statement here, UCU’s statement​ here and the the TUC’s twitter feed here


    This link will take you to the Charter and the University of Kent’s Memorandum of Understanding – here​


    Threat of further restrictions to workers’ access to use the law

    On Saturday I attended a meeting of Unison safety reps, where I’d been asked to speak about my experiences as a UCU rep fighting issues of workload, bullying and stress. One of the speakers was Phil Liptrot from Thompsons solicitors. He talked about the government’s plans to make it even harder for injured workers to claim for compensation. There is now a campaign underway, including a petition. The following text summarises Phil’s talk and gives a link to the petition, which needs many more signatures than it currently has. Please sign and circulate to others.


    David Hardman


    Another attack on access to justice for workers injured at work

    This would exclude most workers injured by work from making any claim for compensation to which they are entitled as they would have to pay their own legal costs.It would let negligent employers off the hook, and reduce and incentive on them to make their workplaces safer and healthier.

    Small Claims Limit – Phi Liptrot from Thompsons Solicitors spoke about the major campaign that has been launched to challenge the Government’s plan to increase the small claims limit.

    He said that the proposed change will prevent 80% of injured workers from instructing a lawyer to enable them to get compensation for workplace injuries and the consequence is that the employer will be able to make their workplaces even more dangerous.  At the moment there is a £1, 000 limit.  Phil explained that claims are in two parts: general damages which include pain and suffering and special damages which include financial loss like loss of wages etc.

    At the moment if the general damages  are greater than £1,000 then the individual is able to claim their  lawyer fees back from the other side.  PL also reported that 99% of cases are greater than £1, 000.  The Government proposal is to increase the limit to £5,000.  80% of all cases are less than £5,000 and will result in individuals not getting any compensation when they are injured by their job.  Even where the total claim would be much greater than £5,000 because of things like loss of wages, they still won’t be able to claim because their general damages are  below the £5,000 threshold.  General damages are determined from  a prescribed list of financial compensation for a particular condition/injury.  Individuals will have to make a decision to pay up front (if they can afford to) and then pay the lawyer out of the total if they are successful.  It means that some of these ‘fat cat’ insurers will get even ‘fatter’ at the expense of worker’s health and safety.  It was also reported that some asbestosis claims may fall into this category.

    Please circulate this information and communicate it widely amongst trade union contacts.

    Please encourage as many people as possible to

    • sign the online petition at  :  100,000 signatures are needed on the petition, to initiate a debate in the House of Commons, so it was agreed to support this. There are only about 16,000 signatures. There are 6 million TU Members……mmm
    • Write to MPs, urging them to oppose the changes.
    • follow @FeedingFatCats on twitter and to find out more at

    Tackling problems at work

    As personal caseworkers for the UCU branch, we are often told by members that they are reluctant to use the formal grievance procedure.

    UCU officers have worked with Human Resources (HR) on a guide to the informal options staff have when there’s a problem at work.   This has now been added as a staff guide to the Dignity at Work policy. Please have a look at the specific staff guide.

    We commend this document to members and suggest you consult it if you find yourself in difficulties. It also makes suggestions of what colleagues might like to do if you witness inappropriate behaviour that is not directed at you.

    We hope members find it useful and would welcome any suggestions for improving it.

    UCU subscription rates

    Dear University of Kent UCU members 

    As you will know, union subscription rates are dependent on earnings, and national subscription rates are reviewed every year.

    Current national rates, applicable from 1st September 2016 to 31st August 2017 are set out on the UCU web site at

     Please make sure – particularly if you have recently been promoted – that you are in the correct income band.

     Those members who pay by salary deduction need do nothing: the university pay office is kept informed of the current rates, and they will apply them to salaries appropriately.

     However those of you who pay by direct debit may not realise that there is NO automatic update mechanism. Neither the local branch, nor UCU headquarters know what you earn, and for membership purposes, you remain in the income band you first placed yourself until you yourself update your membership record. If you have been promoted recently you may be paying too little – if you are on maternity leave at reduced pay you may be paying too much.

     It is important that you pay the correct subscription, for the sake of both yourself and the union. From the union web site:

     “The subscription you pay is based on your earnings. Please ensure that you pay the correct subscription; failure to do so may disqualify you from receiving legal advice and other benefits.”

     You can update your membership record, including your subscription rate, at any time by going to the members page at:

     and logging in to member services.

     If you are not sure how to do this, or you have any queries about your UCU membership, please contact Owen Lyne or Mark Dean


    Employment of part-time teachers – survey report presented

    Update – slides available at this link – UCU report presentation 2016 06

    The branch commissioned a survey and report on the employment of part-time teaching staff in the University to investigate further the concerns expressed by members. The report will be presented tomorrow:

    Friday 24th of June 1pm

    Marlowe Lecture Theatre 1

    The meeting is also open to non-members and we would encourage non-union part-time teaching staff to come. There will be an opportunity for questions and comments on the report and further discussion about tackling the problems thrown up.

    The published report has been circulated by email through the branch members list. Members who aren’t on the list should e-mail Owen Lyne ( for a copy. We hope you will find the information in it interesting. Some printed copies will be available at the meeting.

    Supporting the junior hospital doctors

    Committee member William Rowlandson writes:

    I cycled up to the hospital this morning and spent a cold hour chatting with the junior doctors.

    Good turnout – over 20 people when I left – mostly BMA members (photo only catches some of them).

    Group of picketing junior hospital doctors at Canterbury hospital
    Pickets at Kent and Canterbury hospital – photo William Rowlandson


    I was impressed with the public support – 9 out of every 10 cars beeped and waved, as did the bus and taxi drivers.

    Some things of the chats:

    • 78% BMA turnout for the ballot. 98% in favour of industrial action.
    • NHS already has a 7-day service. It always has.
    • There are not sufficient doctors to deliver full service for the weekend. Hence the contract dispute.
    • As with teachers and lecturers, this strike is about much more than money – much, much more. There are massive structural changes taking place in the NHS. Working conditions and pay are worsening, and the end result will be poorer services offered to the patients.
    • All those I spoke to feel that Hunt is the fall guy for a wider strategy to drive down quality in the NHS, forcing patients to choose private and to sell off services to private health contractors, leading ultimately to a break-up of the NHS.
    • Hunt will stick to his guns. Unlike IDS he won’t resign nor will he be sacked.
    • The question is whether he has the power to impose the contracts. Many trust managers have already said they will not force the contracts on junior doctors. How, therefore, will Hunt actually impose the contract?

    They are striking tomorrow too.

    Good health to all!

    Ben Hickman adds:

    Tomorrow [Wednesday 27th] the BMA are bringing the pickets, from Canterbury, Ashford, Thanet, and beyond, to the High Street. Members and supporters will be marching from their picket line outside the Kent & Canterbury Hospital to the Square in front of Café Rouge, The Parade, Canterbury. They will start from 10.30am at K&C and finish at 11.30am at the Parade for some kind of rally. Obviously, it’s very likely to be the biggest political thing to happen in the city centre this year. Do come and show your support, even if it’s only for 10 minutes!

    Please meet at K&C Hospital just before 10.30am



    Southeast Regional TUC says:

    Support our Junior Doctors –  Protect our NHS

    The BMA/Junior Doctors’ dispute, against the imposition of a new employment contract and the impact of proposed changes in their terms and conditions of employment, continues. The government is seeking to portray the dispute about being about money and the loss of a premium pay rate for working on Saturdays, and to characterise the Junior Doctors as greedy. The Junior Doctors and the BMA are adamant that the critical factor in the dispute is patient safety. The contract arrangements that the government intends to impose also disadvantage doctors who wish to work part-time or take career breaks and this would impact on many female doctors. So this struggle is very much our struggle, and it is about the ethos of the NHS, the quality of care, and Junior Doctors’ terms and conditions. See:






    Junior Doctors are keen for the members of the public to be seen to be actively supporting their campaign. A good source of information, intended to provide a clear and accessible review of the issues for the general public. (Click on image for link)