Your Bristol UCU Newsflash 13th December 2017

As we near the Xmas vacation, and Bristol UCU nears a high of 1,200 members, your Newsflash team reviews 2017 by taking a look through our archive.

January – March

The first month of the year saw Bristol UCU decide to back a boycott of the NSS, supporting our students’ union in their campaign to discredit the highly discreditable Teaching Excellence Framework. The boycott would prove to be a success, Bristol failing to meet its NSS threshold.

During February and into March, Bristol UCU declared its campaigning priorities for the year – workload, progression and promotion and gender pay equality. We also declared our commitment to the custom and practice of a 12-month salary severance package for University voluntary redundancy offers. UCU elections for the General Secretary kicked off in the Spring.

Bristol UCU also thwarted timetabling plans to extend the teaching day at Bristol, and pressed for a fair approach to Staff Constraint. We also hosted, as part of our recruitment efforts, ‘Meet UCU For Lunch’. Membership hit one thousand in this period.

April – June

In April Bristol UCU began to contribute to the review of University promotion and progression, securing UCU representation on all strands of the review. We launched our consultation on motions up for debate at the upcoming UCU national Congress.

In May pay was very much on the agenda. For a reflection of the discussion, see the blog post ‘Pay, Workload and Next Steps: After the AGM’

We also submitted our response to the review of Pathway 1 staff. Also in May Bristol delegates attended national Congress. See the report ‘Brighton Rocks: Bristol UCU Congress Report 2017’.

In June we hosted a series of focus groups for Pathways 1, 2 and 3 staff. We also advertised the National Senior Management Survey (SMS). The survey found only 11.5% of University of Bristol staff surveyed were satisfied with how Bristol is being managed, this on the back of the 2015 University of Bristol Staff Survey which found only 29% of staff were confident that their ideas and suggestions were heard by decision-makers.

In the same month, UCU members and Faculty of Arts HPTs signed an open letter, asking Arts Management to review the payment of Arts HPTs as a matter of urgency: ‘we believe that HPTs in Arts are being paid less than HPTs in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law (SSL) for doing the same work…it cannot be right or proper that staff at Bristol are paid less for doing the same work. Such a principle is at the heart of the University’s Reward agenda’.

July – September

In July significant restructurings and new programmes – for example, Finance Services, Timetabling and Examinations Office and UniForum – occupied a great deal of Bristol UCU reps’ time.

We also offered our revisions to proposed changes to the Personal Relationships policy at the University, and submitted our Pathway 3 contribution to the Progression and Promotion Review.

Newsflash took a well deserved break over August!

October – December

In September, UCU announced that all postgrads who teach are eligible for free UCU membership. Pensions and USS became the hot topic, and Bristol UCU submitted its Pathway 2 submission to the Review. On USS, in the UCU consultative ballot, 87% of members who voted were prepared to take industrial action to defend existing USS benefits.

September also marked the tragic news about former Bristol UCU rep Celia Hollingworth. Much missed by those who had the privilege to know and work with her.

In Autumn UCU shared its initial views on the proposed changes to progression and promotion.

November marked the launch of UCU’s formal ballot on industrial action over USS and the shocking proposals from our employers – with Bristol in the hawkish vanguard – regarding our pensions – a potential 40% cut!

The Defined Contribution proposals ‘will pick the pocket of a typical lecturer by more than £200,000 over the course of their retirement and will open up a near £400,000 gap between the retirement payments received by academics in post-92 universities, who are members of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS), and USS members’. Bristol UCU pressed for further negotiations.

Restructurings continue apace with IT Services, SLSP and Pastoral support at Residences all in consultation before the year ends

A snapshot of our work this year. Thanks to all who aided and abetted. Here’s to 2018.