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Quick thoughts on the Pay Ballot result 2018

Dear members

You will have seen the ballot results sent round by UCU HQ. Only 7 out of 147 Branches made the 50% legal threshold (it’s hard work!).

HOWEVER, if you aggregate the results, there was a 42% national turnout with a nearly 70% vote for strike action. This is the best result that UCU has ever achieved in a national pay ballot.

@ucusurrey got very comfortably over this national average with its 44% – something to be proud of.

Thank you to all our members who voted.

Surrey UCU

Pay is not about Pay

Why do we keep emailing about Pay?

Pay is not really about Pay. Pay is about the race to the bottom.

We saw it with USS. Employers argued that other organisations in the private sector have pushed their employees into gambling their pensions on the stock market, so why shouldn’t HE institutions?

A dangerous logic.

As for the current 2% Pay offer – if you are paid a lot less than inflation for 14 years, you are in the race to the bottom. At some point, this race has to stop.

Other hurdles as HE employees lap the downward track – contracts that are increasingly precarious, casual, insecure. The gender pay gap drags on. Workloads are increasingly stressful.

All of these issues were raised in the 2018/19 UCU Pay and Equality claim. They are the reasons we are now in dispute, and they ARE OUTLINED ON YOUR BALLOT PAPER.

Why do we keep talking about 50%?

If we do not reach the legal threshold of 50% voting turn-out as a Branch we will probably be RE-BALLOTED. We can not take any legitimate action without reaching this figure. We will not be able to join the other 147 balloted Branches who will be strengthening our collective negotiating power in an attempt to improve the employer’s offer.

So Pay is not really about Pay. And your vote really does matter.

Please vote and let us know today.

Surrey UCU


The JEP Report is out! If you went on strike, if you braved those cold pickets, if you were the lone member in your department not in work during the dispute – read the exec summary of the JEP Report (it is a lot shorter, accessible, and very well written). This is your document, an outcome of your action, and remember, if it wasn’t for the action – you would have a defined contributions pension scheme winging its way into existence instead of a report that validates the original UCU arguments against the proposed changes to the scheme. Tide-turners include: the unique position of HE as a sector and the need for long-term thinking as a consequence, the strength of USS as a scheme, the faulty consultation process with employers, and the need for more cohesive consultation with members (i.e. you!).

A sigh of relief. And the first important step in a long process. We still have further to go in Phase 2 of the current JEP remit. However, it is time again to thank all those who made sacrifices last Spring so that voices could be heard and staff provisions defended. Get in touch with your views and let us know what you think.

We have shown UUK that collective action works over pensions, now let’s show UCEA over Pay!

Captured Content Policy – UCU Consultation and Member Advice

During the period in which UCU have been consulting about the Captured Content Policy, there have been some important and positive changes. These include that recordings cannot be used without consent, including during strike action, and that there is no staff appraisal metric associated with the use of captured content.

Feedback shows that members are prepared to use captured content in their modules, but concerns remain about time constraints; availability of support; and “enforcement” of teaching approaches. Although the Policy stipulates that Panopto use is not compulsory (this is not legal) it is anticipated that teaching staff may be under huge pressure to provide recordings of their lectures.

What the policy means for you depends on what your Department or School decides to do.

• There may be meetings amongst your Heads of Department / Directors of Learning and Teaching / Programme Directors, so approach the relevant people for information and find out what is being planned for you
• The policy is to be decided by the Staff-Student Liaison Committee (SSLC) which reports to the Board of Studies. As any changes to the delivery of teaching on a module needs to go through the Board of Studies please engage fully with your Boards of Studies meetings

• The policy states that every module should include captured content for the next academic year (2018-19) and beyond. Bear in mind that there are hundreds of modules across the entire University, but finite resources. If your Department proposes something that seems unrealistic ask for confirmation that the time and resources are guaranteed before agreeing

• The Policy aims to develop local practices that are acceptable and realistic. All teaching staff should have some input into these decisions – however if staff in your department are being frozen out of such discussions then please let us know – this is not the intention of the Policy as we understand it from meetings with TEL.

We hope this helps, we will continue to be in touch on this issue.

MEQs, strike action and appraisals 2018

We are aware that members are concerned as to the impact that strike action may have had on MEQ scores, and the subsequent use of these scores within upcoming appraisals. The Surrey UCU Committee advise that it may not be necessary to take action unless you anticipate your manager downgrading your appraisal. You may wish to note on your appraisal form that MEQs may be lower than usual because of legitimate strike action they have taken.
If any punitive scoring or comments arise from the appraisal due to low MEQs from students who were affected by industrial action, we will challenge this on the basis that the member of staff is receiving detrimental treatment as a result of union membership, which is unlawful. We are therefore advising members to keep in touch and keep us informed of any detrimental consequences. We will offer further advice nearer to the appraisal round. Please let us know if you become concerned that your appraisal may suffer because of strike action you have taken this year (i.e. for any role; not just that relating to MEQs). 


Call on the University of Surrey to drop 100% deduction for action short of a strike

UCU calls on University of Surrey senior management to drop 100% deduction for action short of a strike.

As you may know, university staff at 64 institutions are currently engaged in industrial action to defend their pensions against the drastic cuts proposed by UUK. University of Surrey is one of these 64 universities. Unfortunately, as far as UCU is aware, the University of Surrey is one of only a tiny handful of universities planning to deduct 100% for action short of a strike.

The proposed 100% deductions for Action Short of a Strike (ASOS) are unfair. This punitive measure seeks to deduct wages twice for the same thing – once for being on strike, and then again for not subsequently doing the work not done owing to being on strike. Requiring staff to reschedule in this way is unprecedented, highly impractical, and would be a cause of both staff and student work overload, contrary to the principle of duty of care.

The vice-chancellor at a prestigious Scottish University, who has recently changed her mind and adopted a much less punitive stance, has labelled such measures as “unfair and clearly counter-productive” and that such a policy would be “inconsistent with this university’s values and the store we place on our shared sense of community”.

UCU is calling on the University of Surrey senior management to drop their punitive plan to deduct 100% from wages for refusing to reschedule lectures or classes, or to cover the work of absent colleagues as industrial action short of a strike (ASOS).

An additional concern is that the University of Surrey will continue to make pension payments on the understanding that colleagues taking action will respond to the university’s requests for notification in advance of action taking place. This pressure to declare strike action ahead of time is designed to mitigate the effects of industrial action, forcing the rescheduling of work, which in effect makes the the action meaningless. UCU members are already taking a cut in their pay in order to take a stand, they have not made the decision to take strike action lightly.

Within this dispute, University of Surrey is proving to have one of the most punitive management cultures in the country. These punitive measures affect early career staff the most, particularly those on hourly paid contracts, and we urge alumni, students, external examiners and staff working within academia to sign this letter to urge the University of Surrey to reconsider its position.


Please sign now:

UCU announces 14 strike dates at 61 universities in pensions row

Strikes will begin on Thursday 22 February

UCU has written to the 61 universities* to inform them of an escalating wave of strikes over a four-week period that will begin with a five-day walkout either side of a weekend. There will then be four days of strikes from Monday 5 – Thursday 8 March and a full five-day walkout the following week (12 – 16 March). The strike dates are:

Week one – Thursday 22 and Friday 23 February (two days)

Week two – Monday 26, Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 February (three days)

Week three – Monday 5, Tuesday 6, Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 March (four days)

Week four – Monday 12, Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14, Thursday 15 and Friday 16 March (five days)

Surrey UCU reached the 50% turn out threshold and will be participating in strike action.

USSU President open letter to Surrey Vice-Chancellor, Max Lu re USS

Dear Vice Chancellor,

Following our last Union Executive Committee meeting (9th January 2018), I am writing on behalf of the Students’ Union in relation to the current dispute over USS pensions, which risks a considerable reduction in the retirement benefits staff may receive.

As a union, we believe that all academic staff have a right to job security, and that fair pensions are a part of this security. Whilst we do not wish at this time to take a position in relation to the University or local branch of UCU on this dispute, we strongly feel that it is in the best interests of students at the University to minimise the disruption which would result from sustained strike action.

As the Executive Committee discussed, the current pensions dispute stands to significantly disadvantage current students who may pursue a career in higher education. Furthermore, academic staff at the University are vital to not only the growth and wellbeing of our students, but are fundamental to their time here at Surrey.

With these thoughts in mind, we would like to ask that you, in your position as one of the most prominent Vice Chancellors in the UK, publically outline the position that you have taken within UUK regarding the pensions dispute. Further to this, we call upon you to use your role within UUK to support a swift, mutually-agreeable outcome from the dispute.

Yours sincerely,

Saskia Cochrane

President of USSU

On behalf of the USSU Executive Committee