It will either be at your home address or at work, depending
on which address you chose when you completed your UCU registration or updated
your membership record on MyUCU. Log in
to MyUCU to check and or/update this at www.ucu.org.uk/myucu
You should have received an email from Matt Waddup, UCU Head
Office, on 21st January entitled “Lost ballot paper? Order a replacement”. This
contains a personalised link to request a replacement ballot paper. Or you can fill in the form at https://yoursay.ucu.org.uk/s3/HEballot
We have no choice – voting on paper is a legal
requirement. The Trade Union Act
2016 specifically and deliberately outlawed online voting in industrial
disputes, at the same time as requiring a 50% turnout.
A considerable reduction in the use of
Reducing gender pay inequality
Reducing workloads and work-related stress
Achieving a pay rise that makes up for the
real-terms loss of pay since 2009. The 2% we were offered (and which has been
imposed) doesn’t even cover one year’s inflation.
The employers have offered nothing at all on the first three
points. The unions have been pushing for
progress on these areas for years, without any meaningful progress. ‘Talks’ get nowhere without action to push
the employers to make genuine improvements.
It’s simple – we’re just asking for UUK to properly
negotiate with us around workload, equality and casualisation, as well as
pay. All of the issues are interlinked,
which is why we think that the negotiations need to cover them all.
We are also working at a local level – at Leeds we have submitted
a gender pay claim and an anti- casualisation claim (although so far the only
response we’ve had to these is to suggest some future meetings). It’s important
that there is a national framework for these negotiations so that there are
agreements that individual employers can’t opt out of.
The HE trade unions can’t choose when different
issues are discussed – there are different negotiations machineries for
different issues. The pay offer had to be responded to at the time, because to
do nothing would have meant accepting the first appalling offer. The pensions
dispute is still going on because despite the Joint Expert Panel report largely
vindicating the UCU position, the USS Board are currently doing another
valuation and sounding out the HE employers again about possible changes.
University managements will judge the union’s strength by our turnout and
willingness to take action in the current dispute. If we don’t have a good turnout and strong Yes
vote, they will feel more able to take further liberties with our
pensions. Similarly what happens in the
current ballot will affect the union’s ability to influence any and all future
Last October Leeds members voted clearly (70%) to strike on
this dispute, with a turnout of 49%. It was the highest national turnout on a
pay ballot in UCU’s history. However, the new anti-trade union law imposed a
requirement for a 50% turnout before industrial action can be taken. We were just short of that, so we were
prevented from striking despite a strong yes vote. We think UCU members should
decide, not the government. We’re re-balloting to exceed the 50% legal
threshold so your decision counts.
If you don’t vote, you are effectively voting to stop the
rest of membership from being able to take action, because of the 50% turnout
rule. Union democracy is vitally
important, we need to know what the whole membership thinks, so please do use
your vote. If you don’t think we should strike, vote No to industrial action (but
perhaps Yes to action short of a strike?).
Abstaining is not sitting on the fence. It undermines the strength of
the union across the board, not only on pay, equality and casualization, but
also on pensions, and in the many local issues, disputes and negotiations on
which UCU works for its members.
If you are concerned that you can’t afford to lose pay by
striking, remember that the union has hardship funds, both nationally and
locally, which can provide some financial help.
Also, and most importantly, remember that the higher the
turnout and the higher the Yes vote in this dispute, the more worried the
employers will be about a possible strike, and the more likely they will be to
come up with a better offer. Paradoxically,
the stronger the vote the less likely we are to actually end up on strike!
This dispute is not about the pay spine figures alone, though it is clear that pay in higher education has been eroded, and that there is money in the sector to afford a decent pay rise (compare it to what we have been given, which is equivalent to a cut in real terms). There are four, interconnected aspects which affect most people working in higher education: casualisation, equal pay (pay gaps), and workload alongside the rate of pay itself. Remember that colleagues on casualised contracts supported the USS pension strike even though many didn’t qualify for the pension! Many colleagues are given restrictive contracts on a fractional basis which makes it difficult to find work elsewhere – for example, someone on a 0.2 FTE contract who is timetabled to work those hours stretched across a four-day week will struggle to combine those hours with another job (or jobs) to make ends meet.
It’s imperative to remember that a strong vote will show a strong will to act for the collective benefit of all our members, and affects our overall strength as a union. We actually hope we won’t need to strike, but knowing that we are ready to strike and take action short of a strike in defence of pay and conditions gives our negotiators a much stronger hand. If we do not beat the 50% turnout threshold with a strong yes vote, our employers’ representative body will pretend that it can ignore our concerns, despite the enormous levels of dissatisfaction, stress, and precarious work in the sector. This is also about collective strength, solidarity, and bargaining power. We must not allow employers to feel emboldened about pushing through other deleterious changes while hiding behind the turnout threshold as an excuse to silence us. We urge you to vote “yes, yes” and above all, to vote.
Firstly, we’re not a business – we’re an
educational institution. Usual business
rules often don’t work in a university environment. UCU negotiates with management both locally
and nationally about the pay and conditions of all our members. We work on your behalf to get the best
possible terms and conditions. In the
past at Leeds we have been able to negotiate good agreements with management,
through genuine consultation and discussion.
More recently, there has been a tendency to replace negotiation with
last minute information about changes followed by imposition. And agreed processes are sometimes not
followed. This is not constructive and leads
to all sorts of problems and issues, plus a lot of individual casework when
particular staff are affected. The
changes in IT at Leeds are a case in point.
Over the last seven years, total income across
the sector has increased by 33.1%, operating surpluses by 176.8% and reserves
are up by 259%, yet staff costs as a percentage of income have gone down from
54.6% to 52.9%
2016/17 data shows a mean gender pay gap of
11.8% or £5936 per year
According to HESA, there at least 50,000
university teaching staff on hourly-paid contracts and at least 12,500 with
zero-hours contracts. 66% of research
staff are still on fixed-term contracts
UCU’s recent workload survey showed that HE staff
are working an average of two days unpaid every week
Your industrial action ballot paper should have arrived shortly after 16 January 2019. It’s vital for our union democracy that you use your vote. Don’t be silenced.
The vote has to be done by post because the government made it illegal to run industrial action ballots online
Why are we balloting again?
Last October Leeds members voted clearly to strike – 70% in favour – over casualisation, gender equality, workload and fair pay. The turnout locally was 49%. It was the highest national turnout on a pay ballot in UCU’s history. The new anti-trade union law stopped us from striking.
We think members should decide, not the government. We’re re-balloting to exceed the 50% legal threshold so your decision counts.
Please use your vote – democracy is important
We need to know what the whole membership thinks about taking action, so please vote whatever your view. To help us get the turnout needed for our votes to count, please tell UCU when you’ve voted.
The ballot is open until midday Friday 22nd February.
We urge all members to vote Yes to strike and Yes to action short of a strike including a marking boycott.
We’re asking the employers to work with us nationally to:
Tackle the scandal of casualisation (e.g. 65% of Leeds research staff and 36% of teaching only staff are on fixed-term contracts)
Recognise and address excessive workloads
Real action on the gender pay gap (22.5% at Leeds)
A fair real-terms pay rise (2% doesn’t even cover inflation)
Questions about the dispute?
You can find out more about the dispute in our FAQs on this website, at ucu.org.uk, and in emails from local or national UCU reps, and by talking to your UCU department rep. You can also follow us on Twitter @leedsucu.
Want a UCU poster to put on your door/window/noticeboard?
We’d love you to get our posters seen on campus – there are two versions which you can download and print – here and here.
New colleagues who aren’t UCU members?
Please help us to to keep this branch of UCU strong by encouraging new colleagues to join the union at ucu.org.uk/join.
This email contains important information
about our live UK-wide ballot, free pizza, and the upcoming UK-wide UCU
elections. We’ve recently lodged our branch [anti-casualisation
claim] and pushing hard for further progress over our
branch equal pay claim. We will be pursuing further meetings about the
significant problems in IT, and continuing with quite a volume of individual
and collective casework. We’re all working hard as a branch, and it makes me
ever proud to be Leeds UCU – but that’s not why I am emailing you today…
In this email:
Day! + pre-meeting for Postgraduate Members (5 Feb, 12pm, free pizza!)
is there so much we have to POST by snail mail?
Ballot Celebration Day
5 February, Refectory Entrance
Tuesday 5th February – Ballot Day! Come for a free slice of pizza and an “I’ve
voted” sticker to celebrate union democracy in the casualisation, gender
equality, workload and fair pay dispute. We’ll be in the Refectory entrance
from 12 – 1pm. If you haven’t voted yet, there is a post box just there so you
can post your ballot paper immediately. If you’re not sure how you want to
vote, come and have a chat first. We’ll also be talking about how our local
gender pay and anti-casualisation claims connect to the UK-wide bargaining
Postgrad? Drop in before the event to chat in more detail about how
the current UK-wide ballot and the local anti-casualisation claim directly
affect you. We’ll be there from 11.30-12 – you’ll be there early for the
hottest picks of the free pizza!
Why postal votes?
The restrictive Trade Union Act 2016 further obstructs effective and democratic
trade union organising in the 21st Century (the UK has the most
restrictive TU laws in Europe!). By law, ballots over trade disputes have to be
conducted by post. UCU opposes these laws, but until they are changed, we are
bound by them. There are two postal votes to be aware of:
members are asked to vote in the very important ballot over Casualisation,
Equal Pay, Fair Pay + Workload. You should have received your ballot
paper by now (if not, you can request a new one [here] or by clicking the
personalised link in your email from HQ dated 21/1/19)
all need to vote in national UCU elections which will open on 1 February
(votes need to be received by 1 March). We will have local hustings for
Vice Presidential candidates on 12th February
(12 noon) – more detail on this meeting soon!
Why this Ballot Matters
UCU has repeatedly called for meaningful action on insecure contracts,
pay gaps, unrealistic and unfair assumptions about workloads, and on the
declining value of pay in the sector as a whole. Prior to the introduction of
anti-democratic 50% ballot turnout thresholds in 2016, our vote in favour of
action for fair and equal pay, secure work and decent workloads would bea cause
for celebration and our employers would have been reeling. Only the legislation
protects our employers from having to deal with palpable anger in our sector
over what are termed “pay and pay related matters”. So, we are balloting again
and we need everyone to vote. We ask you all to vote “Yes, Yes” this
time for willingness to strike and take action short of a strike. If you’re not
sure how to vote, please get in touch or come along to a meeting (eg on 5 Feb,
with pizza!) but most of all, please vote: do not let our union’s
democratic voice be silenced.
How does this all work?
We have UK-wide collective bargaining agreements over “pay and pay related
matters” in the higher education sector, which means all branches in UCU can
stand and act together. This makes us stronger. Collective bargaining was lost
in our sister sector, further education, where pay has eroded even more rapidly.
As we fight to regain UK-wide bargaining in FE, we fight to protect in in HE.
“JNCHES” is the bargaining mechanism through which UCU and other unions
recognised in higher education negotiate for what are termed “pay” and “pay
related matters”. Every year, all higher education unions come together to
formulate a joint claim, and UCU has been instrumental in insisting that “pay
related matters” be extended to include casualisation, equal pay (pay gaps),
and workload, alongside the “headline” rates of pay. Our [branch report] on the special
Higher Education Sector Conference on pay in November 2018 includes a brief
All four of pillars of our Casualisation, Equal Pay, Fair Pay, and Workload
claim are connected. There is strong appetite for action among members of UCU.
We need all members to be very clear about the issues we face:
We need a strong voter turnout in this ballot to maintain the credibility of UCU as a force with a democratic voice, and to smash the anti-union 50% threshold
We need a strong vote for “Yes, Yes” in this ballot to exert maximum pressure on our employers, strengthening the hands of our national negotiators to extract progress on all issues in the claim
Without a “valid” ballot result, our employers
can effectively ignore our collective voice on the very issues which affect
members most. This will impact other disputes, including USS.
A strong turnout and a strong “Yes, Yes” vote in this ballot will mean our
employers have to negotiate properly with us (represented collectively by UCEA
for pay and pay-related negotiations). Without it, they will continue as they
have done, claiming as they are wont to do that they have no mandate to
negotiate on issues outside of the overall pay rate, and offering such an
insulting sub-inflationary pay rise as they’d be more honest to name it for
what it is: a pay cut in real terms.
Senior managements constantly cite concerns of a risky, uncertain future of our
sector. We heard the management cry of alleged near-helplessness during the USS
dispute, but we see that our employers do seem able to drive the kinds of
change that favour shiny new buildings, but which too often leave the people behind.
In fact, many members already face a risky, uncertain future, because they are
employed on a precarious contract! While there are challenges (Brexit, the
hostile environment, and more) our employers often neglect to emphasise the
power and agency they do hold as a collective group, to effect and influence
change. Imagine a future where university “leaders” took a progressive approach
to all the issues tied together in our current pay and equality claim. UK
higher education would flourish.
What about USS?
We all received a ten-point update email from
UCU HQ on USS yesterday. We also recommend reading this thread written up by
our favourite mathematician and USS negotiator Sam Marsh explaining where we
are right now: [Important USS
The next meeting of the Higher Education
Committee is on 15 February, where USS will be on the agenda. If any members
would like to feed comments directly to me in advance of that meeting, please
do get in touch (bear in mind my deadline to submit motions, of which I’m
allowed to send 2, is 8 Feb!)
Last October Leeds members voted clearly to strike – 70% in favour – over casualisation, gender equality, workload and fair pay. But the anti-trade union law stopped us from striking, silencing our democratic voice as a union.
The turnout locally was 49%. It was the highest national turnout on a pay ballot in UCU’s history. But the law brought in by the government in 2016 requires a 50% turnout, while things which would make it easier for people to vote, online voting or workplace ballot boxes, it keeps illegal.
The government has no real interest in trade union democracy, it wants low turnouts so that trade unions don’t strike
We think members should decide what we do as a trade union, not the government. We’re re-balloting to exceed the 50% legal threshold so your decision counts.
Both the national and local elected committees are recommending that members vote vote YES to strike action and YES to action short of a strike because we think strike action is needed to make the national employers body take our concerns seriously. At the moment they are refusing to have meaningful talks on any of these issues at a national level.
However you vote, please use your vote. Don’t be silenced.