Bristol UCU Newsflash, 21st July 2022

1) Exceptional Recognition Payment and Union Consultation

Bristol UCU reps, along with Unison and Unite reps, restated their point that the decision on the part of University Management and the Board of Trustees not to consult trade unions about the terms of the Exceptional Recognition Payment did not respect our Union Recognition Agreements’ commitment to consult and negotiate on issues of common interest  

Trade union reps believe that trade union involvement would have averted the detrimental terms of the scheme for hourly-paid staff and staff excluded by the payment’s January and July cutoffs [link]. We also believe that there was ample opportunity to bring the payment proposal to our Joint Consultation and Negotiation Committee (JCNC) on 17th May.  

It is worth noting that at other universities, trade unions were consulted on their version of the payment, a payment that is clearly not simply a brainchild of our Board of Trustees, but a coordinated, HE sector-wide ‘bonus’.  

Looking forward, trade unions secured agreement at our most recent JCNC to review matters for trade union consultation, and to initiate urgent negotiations on changes to the University of Bristol pay spine and grade structure. This forthcoming change is due to the bottom 3 spine points (4, 5, and 6) being phased out by the University because of its Living Wage Commitment.

2) Ballot

If employers do not agree to meet our current USS and Four Fights demands, UCU will begin an aggregated industrial action ballot from late August until October.

Those demands are:

  • Withdraw their imposed USS benefit cut
  • Carry out a new urgent USS valuation
  • Make a substantial pay increase
  • Secure meaningful agreements on workload, casualisation and equality pay gaps

3) USS

Two mini-valuations by USS have confirmed a truth universally acknowledged by UCU: the alleged USS deficit is massively overinflated. A 14.1bn deficit in March 2020 is now a £2.1bn deficit.

Restored USS benefits and cuts in contribution rates are now a viable prospect. Restoring benefits to previous levels should be an urgent priority for Universities UK, working alongside UCU to action at USS Joint Negotiating Committee.

At Bristol, we continue to work well with University representatives, agreeing a shared position on USS governance reform, and working towards a situation in which the detrimental changes that came in earlier this year are mitigated if not reversed.

A joint UCU/University statement, plus a UCU consultation on Bristol UCU members’ preferences for benefit reform, will follow shortly.  

4) Extra-Ordinary General Meeting Last Week

At last week’s branch EGM (and at this week’s Executive Committee), we approved the motion to express solidarity with colleagues facing redundancy and threats to closure of their programmes across UK Higher Education, and to consult further within the branch and with the University to discuss ways in which student caps might be reintroduced for the university and for the sector.

5) Local Hardship Fund: Claim by 1st August

Members are asked to submit any remaining claims to the Local Hardship Fund by August 1st 2022.

Claims by salaried staff for one day of strike pay or from HPTs/TSRs for lost contact hours should be sent to by the end of July.

Colleagues are reminded that salaried staff can claim for their second and subsequent days of strike action from the National Fighting Fund at:

The Local Hardship Fund will close to new claims for the 2021/22 disputes from the start of August but will be available to members once the terms of any new dispute are set in the Autumn.

6) COVID-19 Individual Risk Assessments

With the premature ‘return to normal’, and the winding down of the University’s COVID SharePoint page, please note that you can still submit an Individual Risk Assessment:

Go to:

And scroll down to COVID-19.