We have reproduced the text from 2 emails sent to members on the evening of Tuesday 13/3/18 (below) and you can read the statement from Leeds UCU branch regarding the UUK-UCU statement following ACAS talks here: members_statement_re_12_march_agreement
Local Update from Tim Goodall (Vice President):
Dear UCU members,
Firstly, we WILL be on strike tomorrow and the march and rally will go ahead. It’s crucial that we have a huge turnout.
I’ll give you a summary of what happened locally today and Vicky will send you a separate summary about the national situation. Thanks so much to Malcolm, Lesley and Vicky for representing us so well at a national level today.
Thank you to the hundreds of you who responded so quickly to the call for email feedback, to the huge number of you who came to the picket line and rally and to the 200 or so members who came to the local branch meeting today. The overall response from you was a resounding rejection of the proposal which arose from the ACAS talks and this was immediately fed back to Malcolm, Vicky and Lesley at the national meetings.
You weren’t prepared to accept a proposal that was based on a valuation that has been widely questioned, even by several vice-chancellors. You also weren’t willing to accept a proposal that fails to secure a long-term future for defined benefits, and promises an accrual rate, indexation, and a salary threshold for DB that may leave members no better off than the current DC proposal. Our collective statement highlighting the reason for rejection will be circulated soon.
Thanks, also, to the large number of people who stayed an extra hour to discuss our local response. More on that soon.
I look forward to seeing you on the picket lines tomorrow, starting from 7:30am. We will assemble at the Parkinson Steps at 11:30am, the march will set off at midday and the rally outside Leeds City Art Gallery will be at 12:30.
Update from UCU HQ / next steps from Vicky Blake (President):
A Democratic DayToday was a democratic day at UCU HQ, and we’re so proud of the role that members in Leeds played in this. The Twitter photographs of members jammed into an “Extra Emergency General Meeting” with some of you dangling through the windows to participate (!) are just beautiful! Thank you for rising to the challenge of organising such an important meeting at very short notice, and thank you to everyone who communicated and listened to each other’s views. Our experience seems to have echoed that of many branches all over the UK, with some branches even resorting to holding their meetings outdoors in local parks! In the words of one of our members:“We know that UUK are falling apart, the VCs are in disarray and that this could be a moment for real transformation in our sector.”In this email:
- Brief overview of what happened in Carlow Street today
- Overwhelming feedback (thank you!)
- What this means / what next?
- How will the employers respond?
- USS Consultation
- External ExaminersWhat happened in Carlow Street (UCU HQ) todayUCU’s Higher Education Committee (of which Lesley and I are members) met for an hour to discuss a paper containing recommendations based on the proposals that were circulated last night. These proposals resulted from the UCU / UUK Acas negotiations from the previous ten days. We asked technical questions and a number of different views were raised, before we (HEC) moved upstairs to act as observers in the specially called advisory branch delegate meeting on pensions. This meeting was advisory rather than “decision-making” because a formal Higher Education Special Conference (HESC) which might usually make decisions on important matters of industrial dispute requires 30 days notice.Rather than simply call an isolated HEC meeting to make a decision, UCU opted to bring together representatives from branches involved in the USS pension dispute, to discuss the report. This was in keeping with UCU’s commitment at the start of the dispute that branches would play a key participatory role in decision-making. 60 branches sent representatives. A number of indicative votes were taken after a lengthy report involving feedback from each branch. Our branch’s vote to reject the proposals was echoed by just about every branch representative present. The proposals were roundly rejected by the branch delegate meeting.Immediately after the meeting, HEC met again. We were due to vote on the original set of recommendations based on the proposals developed through Acas talks. However, on the strength of feeling shown by members and branches, HEC agreed that the proposals would be entirely withdrawn. This means that UCU has now informed UUK that we will not be attending the Joint Negotiating Committee tomorrow and that we have rejected the proposal. The deal was not good enough to suspend our action or to agree to the rescheduling of work that we have vehemently opposed as it undermines our rights to withdraw our labour. Members made that very clear today, in great number (including right outside the doors to UCU HQ!)Overwhelming feedbackSeveral hundreds of UCU members emailed or tweeted Lesley and me overnight and all this morning. A large proportion of my incoming mail was from members at Leeds. Your responses were detailed, thoughtful, and the antithesis of the “unreasonable trade unionist” image we are likely to see portrayed in the media in coming days. Stay strong in the face of any such sleights. Members clearly communicated widespread, deep concern that to accept the proposals would be to risk de-mobilising the powerful momentum we continue to build in our fight for decent and fair pensions for a deal that simply was not good enough. The final articulation of the resolution Leeds members passed today is [here].
What this means / What next?Our strikes this week remain firmly on, as does our [March for USS] tomorrow, Wednesday 14 March: we’ll be “forming up” from 11.30; setting off from Parkinson steps at 12 noon. We’ll arrive at Victoria Gardens (in front of the Leeds Gallery of Art) for around 12.30. Our speakers will include [Liz Morrish] who has been leading the Leeds Alumni #donationstrike in response to punitive pay docking, and union siblings from Bradford University.We also have a mandate for further strike action, which was agreed at last week’s HEC meeting (and which was recommended by our Leeds members’ discussion meeting last week). Proposals are being put together for the next wave of industrial action. HEC will meet again soon to vote on next steps, with a view to providing for branches to have flexibility given differences in timetables across institutions.EGM: Thursday 15 March 12 noon (Quaker Meeting House)
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. (Get in touch if you want help drafting a motion.)How will the employers respond?Locally, after a slightly pre-emptive announcement that the action was off (before either UCU’s HEC or UUK confirmed either way), another “All Staff” email went out from the university tonight, expressing “disappointment” that the UCU strikes continue. UCU are very clear: we are disappointed that we are left with no option but to take further strike action as the offer on the table from Universities UK was unacceptable. We are also disappointed that must continue to fight “double docking” 25% ASOS deductions at the University of Leeds.USS ConsultationThough we don’t yet know what the employers’ full response to today’s announcements will be, it is likely that the consultation on the earlier “full Defined Contribution” proposals for USS will begin in earnest from Monday 19 March. National UCU will provide guidance and example answers for members to draw upon in the next few days.External Examiners at USS InstitutionsLater this week, UCU will issue a formal request to external examiners at USS institutions to consider their position with regard to their contracts. This builds on the existing campaign to remove the threat of double docking, and aims to increase the pressure upon the assessment season.The rest of this week is vital
This is a truly critical time. We must continue to build momentum: keep talking to colleagues! Encourage and invite friends and colleagues to explore the issues in this dispute and to join the union and the action.
Please show your support for today’s decision by turning out on the picket lines (and march) tomorrow and the rest of the week. Given the strength of feeling we heard today, the employers must now see the action strengthening.
This page was last updated on 22 March 2018