Text of email sent 7/3/18
- Are you a Head of Department / Service, or similar?
- Everyone sign this petition to research funding bodies!
- The strikes are effective – keep turning out!
- Recruit and buddy up!
- Big News today! (TL;DR: #Yay Oxford, still #OhDear Leeds)
- IMPORTANT LEEDS DATES
- Next Steps
Are you a Head of Department / Service, or similar?
We’ve had a number of requests to help facilitate putting supportive Heads of Department (and members in similar senior roles) in touch with one another, to discuss how best they can work to help solve the dispute and stand up for staff working in more junior roles. Please get in touch with us on the picket line or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we will work as quickly as we can to set up a meeting. Your support is vital and makes an enormous difference to staff working in your area.
Everyone sign this open letter to research funders!
Fellow members at Bristol and Nottingham UCU have come up with this [open letter targeted at research funders] and calling for deadlines to be extended to take account of the strike. Please – especially those of you in senior positions – sign this asap – UCU will collate signatures and send to all the funding bodies.
These strike days are extremely effective – please keep turning out!
ACAS talks continue and every single one of you on the picket line is an extra source of support to those on the “front line” arguing to defend our pensions. Please turn out nice and early for tomorrow’s picket lines – and remember to bring your favourite feminist poetry for International Women’s Day and our branch’s participation in the Women’s Strike. If you haven’t seen it yet, please check out our Equality Officer Gabriella’s article [here]. We pride ourselves on being fun and friendly!
Note that after the rally tomorrow (Thursday 8th) there will be a Protest For Yarl’s Wood at 11.30 (also on the Parkinson steps). Please do join it. You can find out more about what’s happening in Yarl’s Wood [here], written by one of the women hunger strikers.
Just today we had news of more universities dropping punitive ASOS deductions, agreeing to spread wage deductions over longer periods, and some making concessions over their pension contribution arrangements during the strike action. These developments across the UK leave our senior management at Leeds looking more and more isolated, and more and more out of touch with how things really are on the ground – perhaps especially between staff and students!
Today, in an incredible display of practical solidarity, Leeds Students Support UCU offered to carry our leaflets for University Senators over the picket lines, and peacefully handed them out to staff attending Senate while UCU members picketed on the Parkinson Steps. You can read that leaflet [here]. We send an enormous thanks to all our student supporters – and if you haven’t already you should definitely circulate [this UCU video] to thank them.
Recruit and buddy up
Keep [recruiting] and bringing your colleagues to the picket lines – check in at the pink gazebo next to the Parkinson steps from 730am (earlier if you fancy giving a hand with the postering and setting up – committee members getting up early every day really appreciate the help). New members are still joining UCU all the time – at last count we know that the union has gained 6,500 members in the past 3 months! That is incredible! If you know members who are new, or just new to picketing, please reassure them it’s fun and friendly (and that silly dancing is only encouraged but not compulsory!) and offer to be their “picket buddy” for the day.
Remember: people can strike as soon as they have completed the online form.
Big News today
Perhaps one of the biggest pieces of news today was [this incredible turnaround at the University of Oxford]: their position on USS has been reversed. More VCs are joining the ranks of those willing to turn a critical eye to the dodgy basis of the USS valuation and UUK’s consultation processes. This is a direct result of solid strike action.
We have also heard that numerous more universities have been dropping their ill-thought out and punitive plans to “double dock” wages for Action Short Of Strike. Nine universities – Glasgow, Heriot-Watt, Keele, Newcastle, St Andrews, Sheffield, Southampton, Sussex, and Bristol – all announced double-docking policies, but have reversed them after listening to staff, students and alumni. [Our voices make a difference so keep pushing!] Keep an eye on this (non-UCU) Twitter account which is tracking developments as they happen: https://twitter.com/academicboycot1
The University of Leeds management looks more and more isolated in their hardline stance on ASOS. Keep asking them to rescind this policy and review their attitude, and keep striking, working to contract, and picketing!
Important Leeds dates
THIS SATURDAY 10 March: UCU Solidarity Hardship Fundraiser – The Chemic Tavern (9 Johnston Street, Leeds)
: Chips* and Activism (we’ve heard the amazing chippy next door has had an accident so we may substitute foodstuffs)
: Open Mic – Want to perform?
Contact Sandy James A.James1@leeds.ac.uk
Latin American folk music: facebook.com/MestisaUK https://mestisa.bandcamp.com/album/mestisa
: Gary McVeigh-Kaye
Folky fun and politics!
: Birds and Beasts
Donations to Leeds UCU Hardship Fund on the door (as folks can afford) to help us support strikers who will be hit hardest by strike deductions. Bring all your friends and family!
EGM: Tuesday 13 March 12 noon (Quaker House meeting room)
This is a formal meeting of members which means we will be able to finalise motions we send as a branch to Congress (UCU’s annual policy-making forum) and to allow members to bring local motions or other input in response to any developments in the dispute, following a report back from the 8 March HEC.
Leeds March for USS #2: Wednesday 14 March
The West Yorkshire Police actually said they’d be honoured to facilitate our second solidarity march for #USS strikers and supporters! This is a sister march to the one happening on the same date in London to mark the fourth week of UCU’s historic 14 days of strike action!
Assembling in front of Parkinson steps 11.30-12noon
Setting off at 12 noon!
Marching to Victoria Gardens on the Headrow
Rally ~12.30 in front of the Leeds Art Gallery
All supporters welcome!
HEC meets tomorrow and will discuss plans for escalation if there is no settlement. Lesley and I will be proud to take forward views expressed to us at our large, engaging members’ discussion meeting today. We are remarkably united on key issues. We will report back as soon as we are able.
The strike action has emboldened members and students to really spend time on, and get to grips with the serious issues and critiques of how the USS pension scheme valuation and consultation processes have been managed. These conversations clearly also lead us to discuss the interconnected issues with our working lives. Many members have expressed feelings of reinvigoration and inspiration for the future as a result of reconnecting with colleagues, opening dialogues with our passionate students, and making new friends on picket lines.
Now is a time to join history for the making of a future we actually want to see in Higher Education: one in which critical thinking and integrity in decision-making and management go hand-in-hand with decent working conditions, decent (defined!) benefits like pensions, and proper contracts.
Vicky and the Committee
P.S. We might be biased but we think Leeds has the most creative bunch of political pastiche lyrical artists in the union! If you want us to sing your stuff at any of the rallies, please send lyrics and a note about the tune in a Word file so we can ask the regional office to print them for us (and tell us on the picket line you’ve done this so we can keep on top of them!)