Members meeting on 10 December passed 8 motions deciding branch strategy, policy and decisions:
Motion 3: USS pensions
- Leeds University UCU notes that individual employer responses to USS consultations are now in the public domain.
- We are disappointed that the University of Leeds management has consistently positioned itself amongst the ‘hawks’ in this respect.
- We are embarrassed that our employer continues to maintain this untenable approach, notably on the critical issue of ‘risk’, in the face of contrary findings published by the Joint Expert Panel (JEP).
Motion 4 of no confidence in University of Leeds Council USS decisions
University of Leeds UCU branch notes
That as the governing body of the University, the Council has a responsibility to act openly, transparently and in the best interests of staff and students and other stakeholders.
The University of Leeds Council applied reckless prudence incoming to the conclusion that the level of risk in the USS scheme required a total shift from a Defined Benefit scheme to Defined Contribution scheme.
That this behaviour precipitated in the onset of the longest strike in recent history.
That, at the risk to the institution’s good reputation, the Council then approved extreme measures of suppressing protest and legal strike action and action short of a strike.
That in stating in their 2016 response to UUK that an increase in employer contributions above 18% was not affordable is demonstrably untrue.
That all UCU communications addressed to the Council on matters of the USS pension scheme in the last two years have received no response.
University of Leeds UCU branch believes
That the Council ignored or failed to collect appropriate evidence that was available to them in coming to their conclusions on matters of the USS scheme.
That members of Council voting on issues related to the pension scheme had not all informed themselves appropriately of the details of issues of risk, the process of the calculation of the valuation, or on the reliance upon covenant and the reach to any self-sufficiency target.
That the Council failed to consider the unique nature of the scheme as immature, cashflow-positive, and the unique nature of the HE sector in relation to the USS fully into account.
That members of council were not conversant in the function of ‘Test 1’ and its impact upon the construction of ‘deficit’, and could not therefore consider associated matters of risk.
That consequently, not all members of Council were confident or competent in coming independently to their conclusions.
University of Leeds UCU branch resolves
To pass this motion of no confidence in the approach of Council to the USS scheme.
To pass a petition amongst members of the University community to lend further support to this act of no confidence.
Motion 5: Supporting Vicky Blake’s Candidacy for UCU Vice President
This meeting notes:
- That our branch president Vicky Blake is standing for Vice President of the UCU;
- That during her time as branch president Vicky has shown herself to be a committed, indefatigable and effective trade unionist;
- That in her time in the UCU Vicky has shown herself to be an powerful advocate of Union democracy and a prominent anti-casualisation activist.
This meeting moves to endorse and support Vicky’s candidacy for UCU Vice President.
Motion 6: Continuing consequences of the IT reorganisation
This meeting notes:
- The hard work being done by our colleagues in IT, despite very difficult circumstances
- The huge number of valued, experienced IT staff who have left the university through VSS or otherwise
- The movement of IT staff away from Faculties and Services and the consequent loss of local support
- The long wait for help with IT issues because of the lack of IT staff
- The pressure on IT staff to complete timesheets in a way that doesn’t reflect their true work
- The low morale of IT staff
- Some departments have employed, or are considering employing, IT staff direct, to avoid the new management structure
This meeting resolves:
- To re-declare the dispute with university senior management over the situation in IT.
- To campaign for the reversal of the move out of departments to keep IT staff in Faculties and Services.
- To campaign for the use of timesheets for members in our constituency to be removed.
- To urge senior management to develop a policy for the retention of staff
- Organise a three-union meeting to discuss the dispute
- To request University senior management to reflect on the difference between an academic university environment and a corporate setting, and take different decisions about the level of responsibility offered to staff.
Motion 7: Responding to the Proposed Centralisation of Timetabling
This meeting notes:
That there are changes to the timetabling system that are currently being developed for the next academic year
- That the provenance of this policy on changing the timetabling system is unclear and seems to have evaded formal oversight
- That these changes have not been negotiated with local branch of the UCU
- That teaching staff have not been consulted on these proposals
- That the rationale for the changes appears to be to give primacy to student module choice over the pedagogic judgement and/or personal requirements of teaching staff
- That an overarching purpose of the changes is to centralise timetabling, another is to save costs
- That the content of the policies appear to place too much power in the hands of heads of schools/departments/divisions
- That the content of the policies appear to limit the flexibility of working hours for teaching staff and technicians who support teaching
This meeting demands:
- That the university management open meaningful negotiations with us on the content and implementation of the policy
- That teaching staff are properly consulted about the proposed policies
- That the implementation of any proposed changes to timetabling are halted until such a time as these negotiations and consultations have been completed
- To campaign to retain autonomy for lecturers indecisions around timetabling, taking into account the needs of the university
- To urge senior management to halt the expansion of collaborative lecture theatre spaces, at least until additional lecture space is available in 2021
Motion 8: anti-casualisation claim
This meeting notes
- Widespread casualisation that is rotting any notion of the higher education sector as one where a secure career may be forged without elements of luck and privilege alongside hard work
- That both insecurely and permanently employed staff groups in higher education are overworked, and often work many unpaid hours
- That casualised contracts intensify the pressure to undertake unpaid work often couched as “going the extra mile” or a rite of passage
- That such a toxic culture of work and exploitation is unacceptable in any sector
- Significant numbers of staff are employed on insecure contracts or worker agreements across the university
This meeting agrees:
- To campaign for secure work free from exploitation for all
- To pursue a strong local campaign of anti Casualisation beginning with the draft Leeds UCU Anti-Casualisation claim
- To come together as a collective to fight for proper contracts and fair pay for all at the University of Leeds
- To support and demonstrate vertical and lateral solidarity with all who are affected
- That Leeds UCU should host a summit on challenging precarity in post 16 education as part of our campaign, which builds in workshops on practical ways all staff can demonstrate this solidarity to tangibly support staff affected and to agitate for real, long lasting change towards a sector we can be proud of
Motion 1: Re-affiliation and resubscription to Labour Research Department
This branch notes that the Labour Research Department is an independent research organisation which has provided information and resources for trades unions reps and negotiators for over 100 years.
This branch believes that Labour Research Department (LRD) booklets including Law At Work are a valuable resource on employment law and best practices for trade union reps.
This branch agrees to re-affiliate to Labour Research Department and to re-subscribe to LRD booklets online at a cost of £245.75.
Motion 2: re-affiliation to Leeds Trades Unions Council
This branch notes
- that Leeds Trades Unions Council (Leeds TUC) is,and has been for a century and a half, a valued way for members of local trade union branches from different workplaces across the city to work together on common issues at a grass roots level, to support each other, and to celebrate and promote the work of trades unions in the city.
- that Trades Council delegate meetings take place on the last Wednesday of the month (except December), starting at 7pm at the Swarthmore Education Centre, Woodhouse Square, Leeds, and that this branch is entitled to send up to ten delegates to the meetings.
This branch agrees
- To re-affiliate to Leeds TUC at a cost of £252.48.
- To elect at this meeting or for the committee to subsequently appoint up to ten delegates to represent the branch at Leeds TUC for the coming year.