Pay Freeze and Reward Strategy

Dear UCU members,

We write with reference to the email sent by the Director of HR Alison Ross-Green to all staff today.

We are disappointed by both the tone and content of the email. It misrepresents our position by blaming UCU for the failure to agree to the Pay Freeze and the Reward Strategy. UCU has at all times sought to negotiate terms that will protect our members’ interests to the maximum possible extent and safeguard the interests of our university.

In respect of the All Staff ballot: we urge you to vote against both proposals, as recommended by the vote of our branch meeting last week.

The concessions that have been offered today do not go sufficiently far – the negative impact of the proposals fall disproportionately upon the shoulders of those least able to bear them.

UCU members have been communicating their concerns to us in very strong terms; as a result, we established a working group which has come up with alternative proposals, full details of which we will send to you all on Monday; they are:

  • more progressive – protecting those at the lower ends of the pay scales

  • can meet the need for cost savings  – between £5 and £6 million

We notice that management has indicated implicitly (by the threat of job losses if the proposals are not accepted) the number of jobs likely to be saved by the current proposals. It  is the first time we have been given this information. At each step of our negotiations, we have repeatedly called for transparency over facts and figures. It is difficult to negotiate with one hand tied behind our backs. We urge management to increase transparency going forward.

Please forward this information to other colleagues in your schools and departments.

Best

Sian, Owen, Philip and Mark

UCU Branch Officers

Consultation on what Kent HR call a new Reward Strategy

Dear members,
University management have begun consultation on a new Reward Strategy.
You will need your kent credentials to see it.
These proposals would change which points on the pay spine are used for many grades – changing starting points, maximum available via automatic progression and maximum available via discretionary increments. In many cases they will reduce future pay and are partly proposed as part of university cost-saving.
If you do not understand details of the proposals or want to ask questions about how they affect your contract, please direct questions to Human Resources.
If you would like to feed comments into the branch officers, please direct them to Owen.
Please note, if we receive the very large number of comments we anticipate we may not be able to reply to them all individually, but rest assured all will be read and taken into account.
best wishes
Owen and Branch Officers

Joint Staff Negotiating and Consultative Commitee (JSNCC) – URGENT

Dear University of Kent UCU members,
There is a very important Joint Staff Negotiating and Consultative Commitee (JSNCC) meeting coming up on Tuesday 12th May.
Papers are now available on this website (you need to open the 12 May 2020 tab), though some papers are (currently) only available to members of the JSNCC:
There is very important material related to redundancy consultations, a new Religion and Profound Belief policy and many other things.
Please do feed in comments, questions, concerns, points to the UCU branch officers Owen, Philip, Mark and Sian by 9am Monday 11th May, so that we can prepare for the meeting at 2pm on Tuesday 12th May and represent you all as effectively as possible.
Best wishes
Owen, Sian, Mark and Philip

Our local strike fund is available to support you, if you need it, where industrial action has reduced your pay.

Dear University of Kent UCU members,

 

Our local strike fund is available to support you, if you need it, where industrial action has reduced your pay.

 

Even if you have already claimed, you may be able to make a further claim to the local fund.

 

Please read the details of what you can claim carefully, noting that both autumn 2019 and spring 2020 strikes are considered together.

 

For staff on over £30,000, the local hardship fund covers your first two days of strike action, and any days after the national hardship fund limit is reached. The national fund pays out from your day 3, at a rate of £50 a day, to a maximum of £800. Thus it covers your days 3-18. We then locally cover your days 19-22 (if someone has been on strike for that many in total). Thus, if you were on strike 19+ days, please supply the payslips once days 19+ are deducted, and do also consider applying to the national fund for days 3-18 (if you haven’t already).

For staff earning less than £30,000, please apply to the national fund. If you reach the limit of the national fund (£1100 in this case), then please supply evidence of losses over and above that to the local fund (and we will cover up to £75 per day for the excess).

To apply, please email your evidence (payslips for substantive staff or hours not worked forms plus proof of hourly rate for hourly paid staff) to Owen.

No explanation of hardship is required for spring claims (due to our updated branch motion) – please do claim if you need to.

Claims can be made up to 3 months from the point of the loss – if the loss came in March payroll, please claim by the end of June. If you haven’t been deducted yet, claim within 3 months of the deduction (eg by end July for April deductions), but the sooner you claim, the sooner we can pay.

Best wishes,

Owen, Mark, Des, Philip and Sian

Please read BEFORE making LOCAL and NATIONAL strike fund claims

Dear colleagues,
Please read these messages (this one, and the one below) carefully before making either local or national strike fund claims.
We have had several claims recently that weren’t to the right fund.
Please note that autumn and spring strikes are all considered together – one action, one dispute, one ballot.
Please specify in emails to the local fund whether you took part in autumn and in spring, or just spring.
If you are claiming for days 19-22 to the local fund, please provide payslips to provide evidence of ALL the deductions, so we can see you have indeed been on strike for that many.
Please include all information in one email if at all possible – so much easier for our committee when working virtually to handle.
Please don’t assume we already have your bank details – they could have changed. To pay you we need name of account holder (your name on the account, not the name of the bank), account number and sort code.
Please specify if you have claimed before or not in 2019/2020.
Best wishes,
Owen, Des and Mark

Dispute Update

Dear members,

This is a message concerning the results of the re-ballot over pensions, the results of which came in last week, and the announcement of further industrial action at the national level.

As many of you will know, the 2016 trade union act requires union votes to meet a 50 per cent threshold to be valid. Unfortunately, we fell short of this threshold by 26 votes in the recent re-ballot on the pensions dispute. This means that we cannot pursue strike action with colleagues elsewhere in the country to defend members’ pensions.

Given all the upheaval here at Kent associated with the ongoing reorganisation as well as the proposed redundancies and cuts, we understand that many members and colleagues have local concerns uppermost in their mind. The Kent branch has made clear to management that it will vigorously fight to defend members’ jobs and interests at the local level as well as the national level.

With respect to the national dispute, given that the employers have not moved sufficiently to meet union demands on questions of casualization and pay – two of the four fights over which we went on strike last year – the union has called for more strike action, with 14 days of walk-outs over the period covering 20 February to 13 March.

We are part of this national dispute, and therefore will be pursuing this national dispute with our colleagues at 69 other institutions up and down the country, to force the employers to make concessions to address the scandal of precarity and low pay in the sector.

The branch committee and reps are drawing up a plan of action as part of the national dispute. To this end we will have an emergency branch meeting on Monday 10 February 1-2pm (venue tbc). Please come along to give us your views and thoughts and prepare for further strike action.

In solidarity,

Philip Cunliffe, vice-president of Kent UCU branch, Sian Lewis-Anthony, Owen Lyne, Mark Dean

Climate Learning Week

Climate themed learning week: 10-14 February 2020

All branches are encouraged to run a climate themed learning week between 10th and 14th Frburary. 

Colleagues can find materials and ideas on the UCU web site:

https://ctlw.web.ucu.org.uk/

UCU is also fully supporting Teach the Future campaign

Mark on behalf of Branch officers and Environment reps

UCU week of action against workplace racism

10-14 February 2020: Building an anti-racist environment

Resources for the week of action are available from the UCU web site at:https://www.ucu.org.uk/action-against-workplace-racism 

Links to the key strands are:

  1. Barriers to progression
  2. Race pay gap
  3. Decolonising education
  4. Hostile environment

There are suggestions and resources to help stimulate discussions with Colleagues and Students.

Mark on behalf of Branch Officers and EDI reps

Up coming UCU week of action against workplace racism

In 2020 UCU will be holding a week of action against workplace racism starting on 10th February 2020. The theme is ‘building an anti-racist environment’.

We ask members to support the national campaign and we canvass views from colleagues about ways to promote the week at Kent. Please contact Mark Dean (g.m.dean@kent.ac.uk) in the first instance.

Details of national campaign will be posted on UCU website:

https://www.ucu.org.uk/action-against-workplace-racism

 

NEW YEAR BALLOT on Pension dispute

We are facing significant challenges both at this institution and in the sector generally. The way we can flex our muscles and be heard is to express ourselves through our ballot for industrial action in respect of the USS pension. You will have seen emails from our Gen Sec indicating that there has been some movement nationally on the part of the employers’ associations over pay & conditions and pensions (UCEA and UUK respectively).

For those who may be new to UCU or unions generally, you may not know that in order to be able to take industrial action in respect of any dispute, we need by law to ensure at least 50% of our members vote. Voting takes place by postal ballot.  During the last ballot, we achieved more than 50% turnout in respect of the pay and conditions dispute, but a shade under 50% for the pensions dispute (49.71%). This meant that when we took strike action last month (and indeed our action short of a strike at the moment), our action was limited to the dispute over pay & conditions. Other universities were able to strike in relation to both pay & conditions and the USS pensions. It would considerably strengthen our bargaining power both nationally and locally, if we can achieve an above 50% turnout in the re-ballot.

For those who may be unaware, UCU HQ has decided to re-ballot a number of institutions, including Kent, where the vote was close.  We need everyone to use their vote this time.  Your future during your retirement hangs on this issue. Winning our dispute will mean that we avoid a likely £10,000 p.a. cut in our old age. Winning will also be a win for this University, as it will also mean the contributions it has to make to our scheme will be kept down. Please read the emails from HQ relating to the pensions dispute. 

If you have lost/mislaid your ballot paper, please order a new one by using this link: https://www.ucu.org.uk/ballotrequest

PLEASE USE YOUR VOTE, WHETHER OR NOT YOU ARE A MEMBER OF THE USS scheme. And PLEASE VOTE YES TO STRIKE ACTION AND ACTION SHORT OF A STRIKE.

Best

Sian, Owen, Phil and Mark

UCU Branch reps