UCU members vote to strike over Statute changes

UCU members of the University of Leeds local association have voted to strike and take industrial action short of a strike as part of our dispute with the University of Leeds management over their intention to make detrimental changes to the university’s statutes, including the catch-all sacker’s charter “dismissal for some other reason.”

The ballot results are as follows:

Trade dispute between UCU and the University of Leeds over the university’s proposals to make changes to the employment statute.

The ballot closed at noon on Friday 26 May. The response to the questions you were balloted on is as follows:

Are you prepared to take industrial action consisting of strike action?

Number of ballot papers returned: 782
Number voting YES: 524 (67.3%)
Number voting NO: 255 (32.7%)
Number of papers found to be invalid: 3

Are you prepared to take industrial action consisting of action short of strike?

Number of ballot papers returned: 782
Number voting YES: 602 (77.3%)
Number voting NO: 177 (22.7%)
Number of papers found to be invalid: 3

You can see the full scrutineers report on the UCU website

Thank you to everyone who took part in the ballot. It is so important for a trade union to make our decisions collectively and democratically. We will be in touch shortly about the next steps.

posters and ballot papers

By now most of you will have received your ballot paper and, separately, a new leaflet and a poster.

Poster in the post

Please stick the poster on your door, or a campus-facing window, or somewhere else which will help to show the strength of opposition to the university introducing a catch-all dismissal rule.

Tell us you’ve voted

Please tell us you’ve voted – email ucu@leeds.ac.uk with http://activspace.com/ed/sitemap-1.html arthobby ‘voted’ in the subject line. (It is a secret ballot but we want to know who’s voted to help us reach the 50 percent turnout we have to get because of the new trade union laws.)

Missing ballot papers

If you have not received a ballot paper:

Please check your details online to ensure they are accurate. You should check mailing address, branch and workplace details, as well as employment category and category of membership. Student, Retired and Attached members are automatically excluded from this ballot. You can check your record at members.ucu.org.uk

If your record is correct, please email heyorkshire@ucu.org.uk once you have checked your details, and a new ballot paper will be issued to you. This needs to be done by 19th May.

If you have made changes to your record, please do so and email confirmation to the heyorkshire@ucu.org.uk.

If you have joined the Union since the opening of the ballot, or recently transferred to the branch you need take no further action as a new ballot paper will automatically be sent to you.

Deadline

Please post your ballot paper now, please don’t wait till near the deadline because it increases the chances of your vote not being cast.

Your ballot paper must be received by the independent balloting organisation by 12pm on Friday 26 May.

e-poll shows 74% of members will strike over “Sacker’s Charter”

An e-poll of UCU members at the University of Leeds has shown 74% in favour of the union moving to a strike ballot and for taking strike action over the disputed proposal for a new catch-all statute for “dismissal for some other substantial reason”.

UCU’s national executive committee has declared this a dispute of national significance, and the union is moving towards a formal industrial action ballot.

University senior management has told UCU they don’t see the point in further local negotiations as they aren’t prepared to climb down from their position that “dismissal for some other substantial reason” must be enshrined in statute.

UCU is calling on the university senior management to get back around the table and continue negotiating to try to work out how they can dismiss staff people in the rare cases that it it’s necessary and appropriate without creating a sacker’s charter which could leave many staff looking over their shoulders if they disagree with their head of school or criticise a major research funder.

Statute – response to Vice-Chancellor’s email

The university management have told all staff that dismissal for ‘some other substantial reason’ (SOSR) is within the law and that they want to update our Statutes to reflect this.

Management have no right, under our current Statute, to make dismissals for ‘some other substantial reason’.

‘Dismissal for some other substantial reason’ has been within the law since the 1970s, but university management here, and in other institutions across the country, chose not to stoop to the legal minimum protection when updating their university statutes in the 1980s and 1990s.

So, why now? Our conditions at the University of Leeds are better than the law in many ways (paid parental leave and sick pay, for example) and we want to keep it that way. We don’t think our conditions of employment (or anyone’s, for that matter) should be pared down to the basic legal minimum of “anything that’s not illegal”.

‘Dismissal for some other substantial reason’ is potentially dangerous because it could be so wide ranging. We’ve already given you examples e.g. breakdown in trust, third party pressure.

In terms of the University Executive Group (UEG) being exempt from Statute, neither the Senate paper or the paper that went to Council in November 2016 contained the paragraph about UEG being exempt. When that paragraph appeared is a mystery, and it has not been the subject of negotiations between UCU and university management. We are encouraging the university management to continue negotiations with us.

I urge you to take part in the indicative poll and to say yes to industrial action. If you haven’t received your e-poll, check your “clutter” folder and if it’s not there email UCU head office: EBailey@ucu.org.uk.

Should I attend an annual academic meeting (AAM)?

Short version: yes, but see below for advice.

Longer version:

Members have been asking UCU reps what the union policy is on annual academic meetings (AAMs).

UCU opposed the introduction of annual academic meetings. There was already a much better and more constructive Staff Review and Development Scheme (SRDS) agreed between universities and the UCU.

At the time, University of Leeds’ insistence on the new scheme led to annual academic meetings becoming part of a UCU dispute with the university.

The resolution of the dispute was that, at the request of UCU, the university made a lot of improvements to the proposed guidance on annual academic meetings, making it much more acceptable to UCU members. In response to those improvements, although UCU didn’t formally agree to the annual academic meetings, UCU ended the dispute and agreed to recognise attending an annual academic meeting can be a ‘reasonable management request’.

So, if you’re asked if you want to attend an annual academic meetings, it’s your choice, decide if you think it will be of value to you. But if you’re asked to attend one (i.e. it’s a management request) you should endeavour to attend it.

The guidance is here: http://www.leedsucu.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/AAM-Guidance-Framework-updated-January-2014-2.docx

Advice from the UCU negotiators is to pay careful attention to:

1.2 – SRDS is the primary contractual mechanism
1.7 – AAMs are not for performance management
2.1 – honours requests for a 1-1 meeting format

Contact ucu@leeds.ac.uk if you want a UCU caseworker to advise you on your individual circumstances.