Bristol UCU Newsflash, 10th February 2021

1) Dispute Update – F2F, In-Person Teaching

Bristol UCU Executive Committee met yesterday and decided to conclude the Dispute Process. Although the University has made welcome changes to individual risk assessment and programme review, University Officers are still not prepared to guarantee that face-to-face, in-person teaching will not return before the Easter vacation, or before the end of the teaching year.

The branch will be registering a Failure to Agree with the University.

Bristol UCU Exec has also called an Emergency Online General Meeting as soon as possible, certainly before 8th March. Bristol UCU members will decide our next steps. These include launching an e-consultation/indicative ballot of Bristol UCU members on possible forms of industrial action, and other concrete steps that the University could take to settle the dispute.

A notification of the Emergency Online General Meeting and an Executive-drafted motion for debate will be circulated shortly.

Bristol UCU Exec is hopeful that the University will take this period to offer the guarantee mentioned above.

2) Workload

Bristol UCU reps made our workload reduction proposals to University Officers last week. These were primarily concerned with parking, halting or postponing teaching and learning tasks and initiatives such as NSS Task Forces, TESTA, Programme Reviews, Exam Boards, Educational Action Plans, as well as pausing unnecessary and costly Professional Service change management.

The meeting was very constructive. Critically, the principles of cutting workload and of bureaucratic burden were acknowledged. The importance of short-term, visible workload reduction was emphasized by UCU reps. It is also worth noting that job preservation is central to any workload reduction proposal from UCU reps.

At the end of that meeting, some key short-term workload cutting measures were taken away by University Officers, to consider formally; Bristol UCU awaits a response. Bristol UCU reps are also reviewing questions intended to ‘streamline’ workload. In short, is new extra work warranted? Do we have the staff to do it?

3) UBGPP MembersAre You Maximizing Your Pension Contributions?

University of Bristol Group Pension Plan (UBGPP) covers staff on Grades I and below (unless on an academic pathway where USS applies) including hourly-paid staff.

When you joined the University you should have been auto-enrolled with a 4% contribution from your pay and 5% from the University, so 9% in total.

If you increase your contribution (using this form [link]) to 7% then the University will contribute 9.5% giving a total pension contribution of 16.5% – a big difference.

Remember that your pension contributions are taken from your gross pay, with no tax or national insurance deducted, so increasing to 7% (and getting that extra employer contribution) often means very little reduction in take-home pay.   UBGPP is a defined contribution pension and your benefits will be based on how much has been contributed to your pension pot and the stock market growth (or not) of that money over time.

4) I 💖unions

This week is #HeartUnions week:

As part of the week, unions are demanding the government:

  • Scrap the minimum earnings threshold for statutory sick pay
  • Increase the weekly level of sick pay to at least £330 per week
  • Give employers the resources to afford sick pay for their workers

To sign the petition:

5) UCU Consultation

Members will have received via email:

Please do complete. The more members that reply, the better informed UCU is on where members stand.

UCU delegates will also be attending the delayed UCU Congress later this week [link], as well as a HE Branch Briefing on the final 2020-21 offer early next week.