Members of UCU University of Leeds Branch met today (22 January 2020) to discuss and make decisions about the current disputes. Members agreed on the following motions:
USS pensions dispute and ‘Four fights’ dispute
This branch acknowledges the need to fight back against increasing casualisation, damaging workloads, antiquated gender and race pay gaps and a decade long erosion of our pay.
This branch notes the decision of the HEC to coordinate ballot distribution and strike days for the Four Fights and USS disputes. This strategy allowed for UCU’s most successful ballot turnout results on pay ever and led to eight days of impactful strike action which is empowering our national negotiators.
This branch recognises the need to increase pressure at this point and that in order to win we have to move towards escalating our industrial strategy.
This branch supports this existing strategy towards our two ongoing disputes in HE, and believes that strike action in pursuit of the Four Fights should continue to escalate simultaneously with action over USS, beginning with the 14 days endorsed by HESC in December 2019.
Motion about the Formulation of Strategy for the Next Round of Industrial Action
This branch notes:
- The need to fight back against increasing casualisation, damaging workloads, pay inequality and decades of pay erosion as well as USS pensions justice.
- That the two disputes – pay and equality (‘Four Fights’) and USS – are interlinked
- UCU’s most successful ballot turnout and members’ support for industrial action in November and December 2019 and the level of solidarity at Leeds both on the picket lines and in workplaces during ongoing ASOS.
- The dynamism of the USS strikes in 2018 and the success of members’ input in shaping the negotiations.
- The Special Higher Education Sector Conference (HESC) to consider actions available to UCU on the USS dispute on 6 December 2019.
- The wider work of the UCU Democracy Commission in reviewing the current democratic structures of the union.
This branch believes:
- That members should be formally consulted both prior to, and in response to, negotiations on both USS and pay and equality (‘Four Fights’)
- That UCU’s Higher Education Committee’s (HEC) decisions are most innovative and effective when they are informed by a democratic process of member consultation.
- That members must continue to be consulted on UCU’s industrial action strategy, in order to maintain their support throughout ongoing action.
This branch resolves to:
- Call on HEC to continue to strongly encourage every branch to call meetings and provide the same opportunities to participate in discussions to inform strategy throughout any dispute, and to call further branch briefings and branch delegate meetings to advise HEC.
- Call on HEC, negotiators, and the General Secretary to continue drawing on the expertise and views of UCU’s membership in informing its strategy.
- Call on HEC to provide members with clear and timely feedback on the progress of negotiations (subject to confidentiality constraints that might jeopardise negotiations), noting the importance of this when it comes to formal consultation on offers made in dispute.
- Call on HEC to support branches through regular information-sharing to bring members together for democratic discussion and debate.
This UCU University of Leeds branch notes:
That the University of Leeds has a gender pay gap of 20.1% (2019) and a reported national ethnic pay gap of 39%. While some of the gender gap will be due to the over-representation of women in lower valued work (vertical factors), it is likely that some of the gap is due to unlawful, unequal pay practices that fail to reward women and men equally doing ‘like work, work of equal value, or work rated as equivalent’ (horizontal factors). The ethnic pay gap has not been given the same analysis and it needs to do so.
That on May 29, 2020, it will be 50 years since the passage of the Equal Pay Act 1970.
That Equal Pay is one of the four pillars of UCU’s national pay dispute. And that the University of Leeds UCU branch has been attempting to negotiate on these issues for some time without much progress from the employer. Almost 2 years ago the branch submitted a gender pay claim which, among others, included the need for more research and data and asked management explicitly to provide it. Nothing substantial was offered since.
That the Equality Trust, a national charity, is co-ordinating a series of events and actions designed to increase pressure on employers to meet statutory obligations under the equal pay provisions now included in the Equality Act 2010.
That the Equality Trust is looking for trade union partners to help them target specific employers to establish the extent to which their gender pay gap is due to horizontal or vertical factors (see above). If University of Leeds UCU were to be such a partner, then this would involve undertaking a detailed survey of our members asking them to share their job title, department, role, gender, and salary, thus allowing comparison of ‘like with like’ both within and between departments. We should also include the ethnic pay gap within this research.
That such surveys would be undertaken with appropriate safeguard for confidentiality and in accordance with standard research ethics and the provisions of the GDPR regulations.
That once this survey data is available it could provide an evidence base available to the UCU Branch to press the University to make progress on addressing gender pay inequality as part of the UCU campaign on equal pay and create opportunities for ‘leverage’ should the employer not respond positively.
This Committee therefore resolves
To affiliate to the Equality Trust (at a cost of £50)
To work in partnership with The Equality Trust to develop a survey specific to Leeds University academic (and academic related) staff.
To promote the survey as part of UCU branded action in furtherance of the pillar of our national UCU dispute and to send an email to all University of Leeds UCU members asking them to participate in the survey.
To create a UCU working group (to report to this committee). The working group to lead on engagement with the Equality Trust and the actioning of this resolution on behalf of this committee.
To receive a report from the working group in advance of May 29 and to consider what publicity and other steps the Branch can take (in the light of any survey data) to increase the pressure for our employer to meet its legal obligations under the equal pay provisions of the Equality Act, but also to include the ethnic pay gap in our negotiations.
To send a copy of this resolution to the UCU Higher Education Committee and around UCU activists networks, and urge them to consider similar collaborations with the Equality Trust at a local and national level.
The Equality Trust is a registered charity and was launched in 2009 by Bill Kerry, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. The idea for the Trust was developed from 2007, after the authors secured a publishing deal for The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better. The Equality Trust’s focus is on promoting policies that would take us towards a more equal society, as well as responding to political developments relating to top pay and income inequality.
This meeting notes:
- That the Faculty of Biological Sciences are undergoing a “refresh”;
- That in spite of the semantic niceties of the term, this effectively constitutes a “review”;
- That as a “review”, the process for conducting it is laid out the current Organisational Change Policy;
- That the current Organisational Change Policy is itself the subject of upcoming negotiations with Senior Management.
This meeting resolves:
- To demand that the so-called “refresh” in the Faculty of Biological Sciences is conducted through the processes outlined in the current Organisational Change Policy;
- To direct our branch negotiators to preserve the safeguards in our current Organisational Change Policy in their negotiations.