1) Message From The Branch President
2) Branch Priorities – COVID-19 Institutional Response
- Strike Pay Deductions. We have formally asked the University to cancel strike pay deductions. The University could also consider postponing future deductions, or adopt other mitigating measures. Other universities – Kings College London, Southampton, St Andrews and Sheffield – have adopted such measures in response to the current exceptional demands placed on their staff.
- Dependent’s Leave. Branch reps are currently waiting for the University’s latest proposal.
- Restructurings. UCU and Unison reps are in talks with HR to discuss whether a ‘pause’ on restructurings, particularly if in the very early stages, is feasible.
- Online Transition and Workload. We are discussing with the University the demands of transitioning to online teaching provision and the changes to assessment and quality assurance.
- Lecture Recordings. We are in communication with the University on the use of lecture recordings. Fundamentally, any use of recordings should continue to require the lecturer’s explicit consent.
- Securing Jobs. The recruitment freeze has meant fixed-term UCU members are concerned about their future reemployment. Branch reps are continuing to press for, in the case of research staff, the use of grant monies saved during this period to extend the grant period. In the case of fixed-term teaching staff, these colleagues are integral to the institution’s teaching provision, and are needed more than ever.
3) Going Forward
There have also been some excellent steps taken, for example, the decision by the University to pay a merit payment, starting at £250, to frontline essential member of staff such as cleaners and estates staff. This was unanimously agreed by joint trade union reps – Unite, Unison and UCU. UCU reps welcomed this step as recognizing the work of staff who do not have the option of remote working.
UCU nationally and locally welcomes the putting on hold of REF2021. We trust that this allows Bristol and other institutions to introduce and enforce the necessary workload adjustment to prioritise the provision of teaching. Staff with teaching and research responsibilities, pathway 1 lecturers, should see a different tone and approach to research performance management and internal audit deadlines in this respect.