Your Bristol UCU Newsflash, 28th November 2018

1) Humans. Not Resources. Launch Event Last Week

Thanks to everyone who came to our Humans. Not Resources. launch event last week, a launch event for our branch Anti-Casualisation Claim [link] and our Human. Not Resources. campaign. We also met last week with University Executive Group members and HR senior management to discuss the Claim, agreeing on several next steps.

At the event, we heard powerful accounts of the experience of working on casualised contracts and several interesting proposals, such as a standing item on de-casualisation on School meeting agendas.

One action resulting from last week’s positive Claim meeting was an agreement to write a joint University and UCU statement on casualisation at Bristol.

Check out our positive coverage in the Bristol Post (‘University of Bristol lecturers ‘in precarious employment’ call time on hourly contracts’, Epigram (‘New UCU campaign to reduce casual contracts for University staff’) and Bristol Cable (‘Fighting the gig economy – of academics not students’).

2) Pay & Pensions

UCU will be re-balloting members at Bristol and other universities for strike and industrial action on our current 2018/19 pay and equality claim. This will happen no later than March 2019.

If you are interested in being a member of Bristol’s GTVO (Get The Vote Out) committee, organising our GTVO in the new year, please email

On pensions, UCU and UUK negotiators meet this week to talk all things USS. Encouragingly UUK has revealed this week that most employers – Bristol included – ‘support the recommendations of the Joint Expert Panel’ as presented in the Panel’s Report [link]. As outlined in Newsflash on 19th September ‘the Report calls for a re-evaluation of the USS pension scheme, and recommends an interim way forward based on the September (not November) USS valuation: a 3.2% rise in contributions (2.1% employer; 1.1% employee) and maintenance of existing benefit package (except for 1% DC employer match). This deal is materially a much better deal than both the ‘Defined Contribution or nothing’ offer of January this year and the current steep rise in contributions starting April 2019′.

As UCU has consistently pointed out, ‘it is worth reminding ourselves that less than 12 months ago we faced the prospect of the end of the guaranteed pension at a cost to members of more than £200,000 over the course of their retirement. Without members’ action there would have been no JEP and no change in the position of either the employers or USS’.

The clock is certainly ticking. With the steep rise in contributions – detrimental to both parties – due to kick in April next year, it is in UUK and UCU’s interests to come to a negotiated settlement fast. And this involves putting the maximum pressure on USS, who announced last week that they planning to conduct an interim valuation of the scheme. To that end, First Actuarial, UCU’s actuaries, have issued a damning report, calling into question yet again USS’s much criticised Test 1.

3) Parking – UCU Response

Bristol UCU has been lobbying hard as regards the changes to campus parking this year, the headline being that qualifying points for a parking permit have been upped from 3 to 4.

Bristol UCU has submitted a paper for University management’s consideration [link], and has been meeting responsible managers along with campus colleagues to address the issue, which has been raised by a good number of members.

4) Workload

It is Bristol UCU’s understanding that the University will soon have an institution-wide group to address workload concerns, as expressed by UCU members and in the Staff Survey. It is expected that this group will be populated by senior University managers, trade union representatives and other key staff.

Bristol UCU is keen for an institutional-wide ‘platform’ as regards workload management based on our 11 Workload Principles:

5) #FEFightBack

Today kick-starts the next crucial phase in the union’s fight for a decent deal for FE staff. Please show your support for your colleagues at striking South West colleges: Swindon New College, Petroc College and Bath College:

You can also donate to the FE Fighting Fund, too:

And sign and share the petition calling on the government to increase college funding:

For further SW strike details:


Email: Stewart
Picketing form 8am 28th and 29th at New College site New College Drive Swindon SN31AH
For donations to the hardship fund at Swindon New College please use sort code 11-64-36 account number 19583669

Picket from 7:30 28th and 29th at Petroc main site Old Sticklepath Hill Barnstaple EX31 2BQ


Pickets from 8.00am – 3.00pm 28th and 29th Avon Street, Bath BA1

6) Last Chance: Bristol UCU Consultation – Mental Health Strategy Action Plan

Please contribute to the online survey below. Following the success of our last branch survey on the Mental Health Strategy, members can now suggest concrete actions they want to see in the accompanying Action Plan:

The survey closes midnight tonight. Unions meet on Friday with the Mental Health Strategy team to discuss draft Action Plans.