Bristol UCU Newsflash, 8th September 2021

1) Message from the President

Firstly, may I take this opportunity in this ‘welcome back’ Newsflash to say that I hope that members have had a chance to take some well-earned leave. If the last academic year was, to put mildly, ‘challenging’, this academic year promises to be equally if not more so.

This is certainly not of our UCU making. But it is our task to protect and advance the interests of our members: warding off cuts to their pay or jobs; making their workplaces safe; securing substantive remedial workload and (non-casualised) staffing measures to address an expanded and unplanned-for 21/22 University of Bristol student cohort.

With the proposed cuts to our flagship USS pension scheme, and the continued lack of sector-wide measures to reduce workloads and precarious employment, UCU is weighing up its options as regards industrial action. See this Thursday’s upcoming Special HE Sector Conference. Matters to decide include when to schedule industrial action, whether to link the USS and 4 Fights disputes in one ‘5 Fights’ dispute and whether to ballot branch by branch or all HE UCU members as one aggregate consistency.

To have your say, please do complete the branch consolation by clicking on the link below by Thursday, 9th September 11am:

I know, too, Bristol UCU reps are organising meetings for members.

The branch continues to push for a safe ‘COVID secure’ campus, well ventilated and vaccinated, with the universal use of face coverings, as well a new, more inclusive individual risk assessment.

Branch reps reiterate that our Blended Working Policy trial is to be judged by how much it tackles precinct presenteeism – if you can work from home, you should be able to work from home. Hybrid learning is also now a pressing concern, and UCU reps will continue to advocate for a policy and practice that does not ride roughshod over our performance recording rights or our pedagogical judgement as to whether recording or broadcasting our teaching is appropriate.

As ever, this to-do list is both partial and comprehensive. Partial as in next week’s Newsflash, your Newsflash Team hopes to share current local initiatives e.g. an Anti-Casualisation event and positive union input into current UoB policy revisions. Comprehensive in that the above is a weighty body of work.

In the coming days and weeks, UCU emails will be hitting inboxes; there will be important comradely debates over strike strategy, too.

Alongside this, there is an ongoing and important job of work for us all, at an institutional/Faculty/Division/School/Department level, to prevent detrimental changes to our terms and conditions (at the very least), and to attain improvements in those terms and conditions.

I am confident that as in 2018, when we declared #wearetheuniveristy, we can stand up and be counted. It has never been more important that we do so now.

Best wishes,