Your ballot papers should have arrived – look out for a white A4 envelope with the UCU logo. If you can’t find it, request a new one at www.ucu.org.uk/ballotrequest For queries about the ballot process please check our ballots FAQ.
Please vote now – don’t let that envelope disappear under piles on your desk! It’s really important to have your democratic say, and your union needs to know what you think.
The two disputes are linked. Inequality and casualisation in employment lead to inequality in retirement. Pay stagnation will reduce our incomes in retirement as well as squeezing us right now. Increased pension contributions mostly wipe out the tiny pay increase that has been imposed.
Four fights dispute
We were not impressed by the employers response to our annual pay and conditions claim. Pay inequality, casualisation, and excessive workloads are all significant problems at Leeds, as elsewhere. We had hoped that this year, the employers’ side (represented by UCEA) would negotiate sensible national agreements on these issues which matter so much to staff, often more so than pay. This has not happened – they were unwilling to discuss these issues meaningfully. On pay, the offer is yet another below inflation pay rise. More here.
For a really clear explanation of the issues around pay, watch this video by Robyn Orfitelli, UCU UK pay negotiator:
We ended our strikes in 2018 with the promise of a Joint Expert Panel (JEP) to come up with new proposals on the USS valuation. Those proposals last September vindicated UCU’s position, and when applied to the 2018 valuation they would mean no increased contributions. We want the employers to honour the Joint Expert Panel’s conclusions and hold USS to account. We are fighting for a long-term agreement with ‘no detriment’ to our pension benefits and no increases to our contributions. More here.
Here’s Sam Marsh, UCU UK pensions negotiator, quickly summarising where we are with USS, and explaining why it is crucial not to wait and see what the second JEP report says:
or if you can read Sam’s USSbriefs report here./p>
Can universities afford our claims? Affordability is all about priorities. Universities’ spending on staff has fallen significantly over the last decade, both as a proportion of total spend and as a proportion of income. The money has instead gone to costs relating to buildings (depreciation, interest on loans) and surplus generation. This needs to be re-balanced. Staff are universities’ most important asset and should be valued as such.
We don’t want to strike. But we know the UCU negotiators (including our own Vicky Blake from Leeds) have tried their utmost to get a good settlement to the disputes through a long negotiation process. Sadly, the employers’ bodies don’t seem to listen to anything except industrial action. So we need a strong vote for action to persuade them that they really need to change their minds.
Every single vote counts towards the important 50% threshold for turnout we now have to meet just so we can have our collective voice heard. Without that, our employers’ will say there is ‘no strength of feeling’ over these issues, and they will feel they can safely ignore us. If you are lucky enough to have a secure job, and to feel comfortable with your pay, please think about your colleagues and the future of the profession. Every vote boosts our collective bargaining power, on every issue both local and national, and our ability to support you. Use your voice – get that ballot paper in the post!
Want to help?
- Already voted? Your ballot pack contained some “I’ve voted” stickers and a poster – put them up on your door or by your desk. Seeing these all over campus is a real boost, and reminds others to vote.
- Show your support on social media: on Twitter follow and retweet from @leedsucu, on Facebook like and share our posts at www.facebook.com/ucuatleeds/
- Talk to colleagues and encourage them to vote. Human contact is much better than emails, especially when people are so busy and overworked.
- Talk to your school or departmental rep and see if they’d like any help putting up posters, organising a meeting etc.