Bristol UCU Newsflash, 6th December: Pay and Grade Structure Negotiations, Resolution: End the Violence in Israel-Palestine

1) Pay and Grade Structure Negotiations

With the joint union/University talks scheduled to conclude before Christmas, branch members should expect an update on the outcome of these talks early next year.

As noted in the last joint UoB communication, joint unions and HR Officers have been in discussion over a number of proposed incremental improvements to our pay and grading structure, as well as our benefits. 

‘Our shared objective is to consider changes that will support our strategy while benefitting staff and embedding an approach to reward that is fair and meets our shared commitment to maintaining pay equality’.

Members will be consulted on whether to approve these proposals in due course.

2) Resolution: End the Violence in Israel-Palestine, Support Palestinian Rights, Oppose Antisemitism, Islamophobia and all Racism; and Protect Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression and Oppose all Racism

At last week’s Extra-Ordinary General Meeting, members present passed the now resolution of the branch [link].

As per the resolution, the Vice-Chancellor has been asked to affirm publicly Bristol University’s commitment to protecting academic freedom and freedom of speech with regard to expressions of solidarity with Palestinian people and to urge Universities UK to do the same, and to respond to the Secretary of State for Education’s letter (dated 11 October 2023), pushing back on the dangerous implications of the letter.

Other actions are in train.

Members have been contacting workplace reps and officers of the branch, expressing their concern with the content of the motion and that they feel deeply uncomfortable with the tenor of the debate around this topic, for example, at branch meetings.  

Members within UCU clearly take different views on the Israel-Hamas conflict, on current Israeli military operations, on Israel’s security, on Palestinian rights, on the collective punishment and occupation of the Palestinian people, on legitimate criticism of Israel’s conduct, and on the union’s alleged fostering of antisemitism. UCU members also held different views on Russia’s offensive war in Ukraine, criticizing the role of NATO, for example.

Many members also question whether it is the business of a trade union to involve itself in matters outside a workplace union’s purview. Many members would point to the direct impact that the current conflict has on their work, on their research, on their colleagues and loved ones, and the imperative of moral solidarity, as evidence that this is a workplace issue.

To reiterate the motion’s first resolves and long-standing UCU policy, the branch, the union ‘oppose[s] all forms of racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia’. As a branch, we encourage all members to participate in branch decision-making. Branch democracy should be as inclusive and wide-ranging as possible, and no member should feel uncomfortable in expressing their view. Any constructive suggestions as regards making the union ‘a safe space’ for members who take different views are welcome.