Your Bristol UCU Newsflash, 26th September 2018

1) Calling All USS Members – Say No to Cost Sharing From April 2019

If the Joint Evaluation Panel (JEP) Report has demonstrated anything, it is that USS’s current proposals to introduce steep rises in employers’ and employees’ contributions from April 2019 are unnecessary and should be suspended asap. It is in the interests of employers and employees – UCU and UUK – to get USS to call a halt to their pension contribution hike, a hike which the JEP Report has shown to be avoidable and unneeded.

If you have not done so already in your USS consultation documents, – see Newsflash, 12th September for further details – make USS aware that due to JEP, the 2017 valuation is no longer a sound basis for USS’s proposals. USS should wait for the conclusion of an agreed UCU and UUK position following talks, before pressing ahead with any of the April 2019 changes.

2) ‘Humans Not Resources’ – Anti-Casualisation Claim

Following the model of our Gender Pay Gap Claim, Bristol UCU will be submitting an Anti-Casualisation Claim in the next few weeks – see the University of Edinburgh for an example.

Our claim will ask the University of Bristol to acknowledge casualisation at Bristol, the need to remedy endemic precarity and insecurity amongst its workforce, and work with UCU towards a series of policies and practical steps to address precarity and insecurity. As our branch motion ‘Bristol UCU’s Commitment to Anti-­Casualisation ­ – Stamp Out Casualised Contracts’ states, ‘a positive commitment to UCU’s anti-­casualisation policies at branch level is necessary to a) support casualised staff, b) recruit new casualised staff members and c) inform branch members’ decision-­making on matters of casualised policy at a university, school and department level’.

At present, our Anti-Casualisation Claim focuses on the fractionalisation and employment of open-ended contracts of teaching staff, fair pay and treatment for hourly paid teachers at Bristol and measures to ensure that research staff are able to build long-term university careers.

Plans are to have a claim launch ‘party’ in November.

3) Workload Claim

Bristol UCU Executive agreed to submit a Workload Claim, based on our paper ‘Workload Principles for a Common Approach’ detailing 11 key Bristol UCU principles.

At its core is a call for a common workload ‘platform’ – not a one size fits all UoB model – that enshrines certain key workload modelling principles.

These principles include the currency of any model should be hours not percentages, that the workload model should be transparent and shared amongst those whose workload it captures, that details of costings (eg how many hours does it take to supervise a PhD student in Chemistry?) should be built from ‘the bottom up’ through discussion amongst staff in the relevant unit, and that models should explicitly include time for research (Pathways 1 and 2 staff) and for scholarship/pedagogy (Pathway 3 staff) in accordance with contractual expectation.

As things stand, the current University of Bristol Workload Agreement [pdf] is quite frankly not working. Despite efforts by Bristol UCU to draw attention to key worker rights in the Agreement – did you know that where there is a failure to agree an individual staff member’s workload, a Disputes Committee may be triggered, with a Dean/Division Head, Trade Union and HR reps in attendance? – there is a urgent need for a collective solution to the ever increasing workload burden for Bristol UCU members.

Bristol UCU reps believe that workload requires an institution-wide response.