Email for UCU branch president Vicky Blake sent to members 15 February
The single most effective thing our Vice Chancellor and senior managers could have done to bring the current dispute over USS to a close (and to avoid the disruption it will cause) is to have publicly added their voices to those at other universities calling for Universities UK (UUK) to go back into meaningful negotiations with UCU.
They have not done this.
Instead, most* of you have received a series of three letters, comprising the two which arrived from Deputy Vice Chancellor Tom Ward and Director of HR Francesca Fowler in an email from HR today, and the missive from the Vice Chancellor last week. Many of you are already emailing us to express dismay and disappointment about all three of these letters. Many of you have also copied us into your emails to the Vice Chancellor which express your disappointment with the University of Leeds management position on the dispute and ask him to lend his voice to those calling for a return to negotiations.
(*It would appear postgraduates who teach – a significant and important cohort within our academic community, have been left out of this correspondence today. I have attached it here.)
This is a very serious industrial action. We voted overwhelmingly to take it – comprising strike action and action short of a strike (ASOS) – in an historic mandate which defeated the obstacles created by the anti-union Trade Union Act 2016. Remember that with pride. We ask all members to observe this properly called industrial action, and thereby to follow the instructions set out in the FAQ. This means:
- Don’t tell your employer in advance that you will be taking part in the action,
- Don’t do any work for your employer on strike days,
- Don’t reschedule any lectures or classes that are cancelled due to strikes, and if others reschedule them don’t attend,
- Don’t cover absent colleagues and don’t do any voluntary work.
This is what we voted to do as a union, and we ask all union members to observe the full extent of the action. Together we are strong.
As a sign of that strength, we are incredibly pleased to note that at today’s General Meeting, we voted to set up our local hardship fund to complement provisions made by the UCU National Fighting Fund. Its remit will include consideration of the impact made by any ASOS deductions.
We will write to you again tomorrow, and will deal more fully with issues raised in the email you’ve received this afternoon. These attempts from management to undermine our strong mandate for action should be seen for what they are – they are very worried and it is a sign that our action will be extremely effective if we hold our resolve.
Together we can win.
Vicky and the Committee