Bristol UCU Newsflash, 20th March: Bristol UCU Primo Vere

1) Bristol UCU Primo Vere

Thanks to everyone who attended our branch General Meeting last week. Thanks, too, to everyone who participated in recent e-consultations on the pay and grade structure proposals and on branch motions to go to Congress. Proposals and motions both approved btw by Exec Committee. Said proposals approved by Unite: we look forward to Unison joining their fellow campus unions later this week.

Thanks, too, on behalf of the branch, to branch reps working alongside other campus union reps representing members in the current considerable IT service restructuring and reorganisation.  

Thanks to reps representing members in collective and individual redundancy and dismissals across the University. Thanks to diligent reps improving their members’ workload and contact hours in their School or Centre, or halting autocratic, overbearing management.  

In recent weeks, branch reps have been pushing back on and seeking mitigations for any detrimental effects concerning Bristol UCU members’ leave and caring responsibilities linked to the changes to the structure of the academic year. Reps have also been pushing back on and seeking mitigations with regard to new hyped-up student visa monitoring practices and new staff responsibilities.  

Branch reps have been active in supporting current student occupations in support of the University taking a clear moral stand on the Israeli army’s outrageous assault on Gaza and the occupied territories. Branch reps are also keen to share what we hope will be good news for UCU Pathway 2 members about the mass move from Research Associate to Senior Research Associate in the October ‘23 review of Pathway 2 profile a/Grade I staff.  

As we move into the Spring Vacation, the UCU branch ledger records a healthy balance. With a large membership, beneficial changes to our grades and terms and conditions coming into effect this year following negotiations with our employer, with our USS pensions ‘saved’, with a partnership working relationship with University management that continues to secure and advance the terms and conditions of University of Bristol staff, we are doing well.  

We in UCU are looking forward to securing greater financial support in the form of the payment of the NHS surcharge for our migrant members. There are also some positive employment law changes coming in soon: flexible working requests, for example, can be made sooner and more frequently. Bristol UCU would also welcome changes to marking and assessment processes – for example, later, single exam boards – that would deal with marking pinch-points and ridiculous, excessive marking workload.

Think what more can be achieved if we had even more members, even more University of Bristol PS and academic members of staff advancing their interest in the staff union.

Challenges are ahead. As a union we continue to need to be bigger and stronger nationally and locally to make sure we ‘win bigger’. As an industry, higher education’s immediate future appears bleak, with cuts, closures and retrenchment the order of the day. As a union we must remember that it is our members delivering through their action, in their workplaces, that is central to the union’s successes. The union is not a third party to appeal to; it is the net result of the collective action of members in their work.  

As the recent marking and assessment boycott showed, UCU is a power in the land. Albeit a power that still needs more members, more muscle to defend and advance the workplace terms and conditions of our members. A comprehensive UK-wide deal on pay and pay fairness, job security and reduced workload can only be achieved with a 4-nations union, big, powerful and impactful in every higher education institution.  

To wit, given cuts, closures and retrenchment, it is imperative that every University of Bristol staff member above Grade I, every staff member who teaches and/or researches, join UCU today. In a Professional Service division? Worried about talk of job freezes, cuts and difficult choices? You need a union: a union needs you.  

Join today: