Your Bristol UCU Newsflash 25th October 2017

1) GM. 8th Nov. @1pm

Date for diary: first general branch meeting of the academic year. Wednesday, 8th November, 1pm-2pm, LT3, Arts Complex, Woodland Road.

On the agenda: USS Pensions, Promotion and Progression, National Union Strategy.

2) USS Ballot Result

The national UCU consultative ballot on potential detrimental changes to the USS pension scheme has shown overwhelming support for industrial action to protect pensions.

87% of members who voted in the ballot are prepared to take industrial action to defend existing USS benefits. This action could be in the form of strikes or refusing to cooperate with TEF, REF or USS.

UCU continues to argue that the current valuation method – Test 1 – bears little relation to the underlying health of the scheme. Scare stories repeated uncritically in the media and by ‘independent’ pension experts are all based on the deficit projected by the Test.

University managements at many unis have already signaled they want to move to a defined contribution pension scheme in which pension incomes will be wholly dependent on stock market performance rather than guaranteed and risk collectively pooled.

As pointed out by general secretary Sally Hunt, ‘staff are totally fed up with being treated poorly by employers who seem only to be interested in defending their own sky-high salaries and bloated pension pots’.

For those who aren’t up to speed on all things USS, UCU pension negotiator Dr Carlo Morelli (Dundee University) explains:

3) Progression and Promotion Proposals

Draft proposals, following the University review of progression and promotion, are currently on the table. UCU will play a crucial role. Changes to progression and promotion are a matter of employee relations, and hence of union negotiation.

The proposals will be discussed at the branch Executive and the General Meeting next week


4) Casework Training, 1st November 2017, University of Bristol

If you are interested in representing Bristol UCU members, then register for the Bristol-hosted Caseworker Training event next week:

5) Workload, Workload, Workload

A number of Bristol UCU reps attended this national UCU run session on workload, seeing excessive workload as a health and safety matter. All reps present are now formally H&S reps and agreed on the following actions:

  • Choose target areas
  • Involve Unite and Unison
  • Contact existing School or Division UCU rep
  • Inform School/Division management of our campaign
  • Run online HSE stress survey via UCU national app
  • Ask staff to log workload

If anyone thinks their School/Division would be interested in being involved, contact

6) Strike Pay Deductions – Update

Following the story in last week’s Newsflash regarding strike pay deduction, the University of Manchester, which has previously deducted on the basis of 260 days, announced that strike pay will be deducted on the basis of 365 days.

We wait the formal response of the University of Bristol to UCU’s letter asking for their response to the change in strike pay deduction.

7) Branch membership tops 1100

Bristol UCU membership is now over 1100 – our highest membership ever. 40 new joiners, for example, last week.

NB if you’re a PhD student and are teaching, it is now free to join University of Bristol UCU. Existing PhD members who teach also go free.