Wednesday 10 July 2019, 12pm – 1pm, Michael Sadler LG.15
Chaired by Jonathan Saha, honorary secretary.
USS pensions dispute
Motion 1: USS pensions
This branch notes that:
- The USS strikes in 2018 ended with an agreement that Defined Benefit pensions should not be scrapped and that a Joint Expert Panel (JEP) should be set up to reconsider the USS valuation.
- The University of Leeds broadly supported the JEP recommendations, including the levels of contributions proposed.
- If the JEP recommendations were applied to the 2018 valuation, there would be no ‘deficit’ and the member contribution rate could be 8%, as it was before the 2017 valuation. USS are nevertheless planning to impose further contribution increases, to 9.6% of salary from October 2019, and 11% after 2020.
- A UCU-appointed USS trustee has acted as whistleblower over the way USS has misrepresented advice from the Pensions Regulator (tPR) which has affected the valuation.
- UCU has called a dispute with employers over USS, with a ballot for industrial action to be held in September and October.
- UCU has announced further financial support for lower paid members taking industrial action, if this ballot is successful.
- Leeds UCU at our AGM in May 2019 supported upholding the UCU position of ‘No Detriment’ (i.e. no member contribution increases and no reduction of benefits).
This branch resolves:
- To call on our Vice Chancellor to press Universities UK and USS to follow the JEP recommendations.
- To campaign vigorously in support of industrial action over USS If the employers do not work with UCU to ensure the JEP recommendations are implemented.
- To call on Leeds UCU members to vote yes in the USS ballot to industrial action including strike action and action short of a strike.
Pay and Equality dispute
Motion 2: Pay and Equality
This meeting notes:
- That on 17 September 2018 the local branch submitted to the Vice Chancellor a gender pay claim outlining the basis for negotiations to address the then 22.5% gap in pay between women and men employed by the university while being cognisant of intersected pay inequalities;
- That on 9 January 2019 the UCU regional official Julie Kelley formally submitted our anti-casualisation claim on behalf of the branch, clearly setting out what we want the university to do to end job insecurity and requesting formal talks with the university senior management;
- That in spite of pressure from the branch negotiators, neither claim has yet led to the initiation of properly constituted negotiations;
- That the university senior management has failed to take effective action to address the gender pay gap, has taken no action to deal with intersecting pay gaps, and has prevaricated in beginning formal negotiations on casualisation;
- That local claims form part of the material basis for the UK-wide pay and equality dispute.
This meeting resolves:
- To continue to press for formal negotiations on the gender pay gap and casualisation;
- To mobilise the branch membership in taking effective local action in support of the branch’s local claims;
- To encourage participation in the branch’s Equalities working group and Anti-casualisation working group;
- To support the ballot for strike action and action short of a strike in the UK-wide HE Sector industrial dispute over pay and equality through a concerted “get the vote out” campaign.
Passed without opposition, one absention.
Head of School appointments
Two amendments to Motion 3 as circulated were proposed:
amendment add point 6 that there is an expectation that professors/academic
grade 10 post will take on senior leadership positions including Head of School
and blocks an established route to progression at grade 9.
amendment add point 7: Additional spending on a new grade 10 post may reduce
budget available for teaching staff with potential adverise impact on student
Motion 3: Heads of school appointments (as amended)
UCU notes that the University imposition of a new process for appointing Heads of School in 2018/19:
- has generated discontent from staff in most Schools where it has been implemented;
- has been driven by HR and Deans with little or no input from academics or other staff;
- aims to recruit candidates from outside of the University;
- incurs additional spending which have bypassed the University strategic and financial planning processes, including IPE;
- has bypassed Senate, and is contrary to processes as defined in school and faculty constitutions;
- that there is an expectation that professors / academic grade 10 post-holders will take on senior leadership positions including Head of School and blocks an established route to progression at grade 9;
- additional spending on a new grade 10 post may reduce the budget available for teaching staff with potential adverise impact on student education.
Leeds UCU opposes the imposition of this new process for appointing Heads of School and will write to the Vice Chancellor to urge him to return to the practice of involving the whole school in decision making in Head of School appointments.
Motion as amended carried unanimously
Misuse of lecture capture by the university
Motion 4: Boycott of lecture capture
This branch notes that:
- On the 14/05/2014 a Petition was submitted to the Vice Chancellor of this University expressing a range of concerns about the introduction of a lecture capture system. This petition was started by the initiative of academic colleagues across a variety of faculties and signed by about 150 colleagues in a short time frame (see link to google doc https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSddxs3WKaOENGhMwLmxHpsWxH6yL6GETNigMM6e0TmRWZ9RNQ/viewform)
- The main concerns expressed by the petition were that: “this policy effectively makes a significant aspect of lecturer’s work university ‘property’. Recording lectures turns these from occasions for teaching into occasions for generating university owned ‘teaching materials’. Many colleagues find this extension of ownership of their work highly problematic, some argue that this increases lecturers’ sense that they are valued only as a ‘product’ by the university”. The related risks of automation and commodification of lecturers’ work were therefore at the core of the concerns.
- Another concern was related to the sphere of industrial action: ‘lectures could also be shown if colleagues were on strike or taking other industrial action. The producer of the product would be devalued to the potential profit of the institution. There are has been a broader if related worry about the use of LC to restrain academics’ individual voice, increase the sense of surveillance and curtail academic freedom in teaching.
- Following that petition the union UCU agreed with executive management to establish an opt out system to protect those who did not wish to have their lectures recorded electronically and that the material recorded would under no circumstance be used to initiate disciplinary actions against members of taff and to gather evidence for conduct and capability procedures.
- While the use of lecture capture has been uneven across campus, with students themselves holding different options on its benefits, extant and recent empirical evidence captured in the academic literature has proven the limited or detrimental pedagogical use of lecture capture for students’ learning. Recent research conducted at the University of Leeds shows that lecture capture has a significant negative impact on student attendance. It also has adverse impact on creativity and spontaneity in lectures with academics ess likely to deviate from prepared slides and less likely to use active learning approaches (Morris, N. P., Swinnerton, B., & Coop, T. (2019). Lecture recordings to support learning: A contested space between students and teachers. Computers & Education, 140, 103604. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2019.103604).
- It is with particular concern that we note that lecture capture has been recently used by line-management to fish in for further evidence to discipline colleagues or in the context of investigations not triggered by events occurring during the lectures themselves.
This branch believes:
- That no recorded material collected through lecture capture, with the exceptions of concerns of purported criminal offences reported by other university staff, student or external visitors, should be used to discipline or investigate a colleague or start any disciplinary process, or used to gather evidence for conduct and capability procedures against them.
- That in no circumstance should lecture capture material be used to replace workers participating in industrial action
- That in no circumstance lecture capture should be used to repress or monitor the free views expressed by colleagues at lectures, even if these are critical of university policy (as established in the principle of academic freedom still maintained and protected in our Statutes)
This branch resolves:
- That given these precedents UCU members are encouraged to opt out from lecture capture, as already decided by whole departments who have unanimously opted out since 2014.
- Where students’ special circumstances require specific responses, colleagues should continue to support individual students following best practice.
UniForum (another round of collecting benchmarking data on “the efficiency and effectiveness of administration and support services”)
Motion 5: Uniforum / Cubane ‘service effectiveness survey’
Leeds University UCU notes that some staff groups will be sent invitations to participate in the Cubane / Uniforum bench-marking exercise and ‘Service Effectiveness Survey’ (sometimes also referred to as the UniForum Survey). The survey will elicit comments on the effectiveness of various University services.
UCU believes that:
- it is pernicious that some groups of staff be asked to comment on the effectiveness of other groups of staff, as a matter of principle.
- The survey will be based on a less than perfect understanding of the pressures faced by the service in question, including inefficiencies caused by wholly inadequate software systems in operation at Leeds.
UCU resolves to advise members not to complete the service effectiveness survey.
Motion carried with no opposition and 2 abstentions
Discussion boards for in-course feedback
Noted that these will not be included automatically in the Minerva template and you can delete a discussion board if it appears.
Concerns were expressed about changes to timetabling including effects on members’ workloads.
One amendment to Motion 6 as circulated was proposed.
amendment: to add to point 6 “(including pedagogic research)”.
Motion 6: Workloads
This meeting notes:
- The increased workload of academics and academic-related staff at the University of Leeds
- The wide range of workload models across the university
This meeting resolves:
- To use the ‘workload principles’ document to negotiate more consistent principles for workload calculation and workload policy implementation across the university
Workload Principles – minimum standards
- Academic and academic-related staff are professionals and must have scope to manage their own time.
- Workload is a health and safety issue and takes account of equality and inclusion matters.
- Transparency is essential – this means we should be able to see colleagues’ allocation. Assumptions and criteria for calculation should also be transparent.
- Staff should not have to work excess hours for normal progression and promotion.
- All members of academic and academic-related staff should be entitled to protected time for research and/or scholarship of at least 0.2 or one day a week.
- Research active staff should have a minimum of 2 days per week for research and/or scholarship (including pedagogic research).
- Administrative roles must have a realistic allocation of hours.
- Teaching should be allocated on the basis of a multiplier of contact hours. This multiplier would vary, depending on whether other factors are counted as part of the contact hours formula or are counted on top. Examples of factors that might be counted separately are level of support, marking, class size, probationary status, new teaching module co-ordination and repeat teaching.
- A model and any subsequent significant changes would be subject to negotiation with UCU. There needs to be a process for (a) agreeing changes to hours given to admin roles and (b) reviewing the model every few years to ensure that it still works.
- No weight should be given to outputs or esteem.
- It is accepted that there may be fluctuations. Significant excess load in one year should be rectified by a reduction in the following year.
- Where a staff member is a union representative, an allowance will be made in the workload model for trade union duties.
- Where a staff member is a health and safety representatives, an allowance will be made in the workload model for health and safety duties.
- Citizenship should be 0.2 FTE. Citizenship should not include any activities which are teaching, research or scholarship
- Workload analysis and allocation requires a participatory, transparent and dialogical approach. They need to be based on the real life situation and not theoretical assumptions, e.g. about availability of staff and functioning of technology including websites.
- Staffing decisions must be taken with due consideration of the workload principles and should not give rise to them being infringed.
Motion carried with no opposition, 1 abstention
Centralisation of admissions
This is happening across the university against the will of many staff. Please show solidarity with admissions teams!