October 31: LSHTM UCU Message to students

LSHTM UCU Message to students.

You will be aware by now that on Thursday 31st October many LSHTM staff will be not be coming into work and will be on strike and “picketing” the School. There will be picket lines at all entrances to LSHTM and most lecturers will not be taking classes that day. We deeply regret having to take strike action but feel our employers have left us no choice by refusing to negotiate over job security, the gender pay gap and fair pay.

Many LSHTM staff will be not be coming into work and will be on strike and “picketing” the School. The page prepared by UCL Students Union explains fairly well what our issues are http://uclu.org.uk/strike-FAQ . This is the flyer from the three unions (UCU, Unison & Unite) taking part in tomorrows action:  http://www.ucu.org.uk/media/pdf/p/3/hedispute13_strikeA4leaflet_uson.pdf

We hope you can support your lecturers by not coming into the building Thursday and joining the picket lines. For those of you who are unfamiliar with UK employment law, this is about industrial action http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/picketing-and-picket-lines.

If you have any questions reply to this email,
Did you know students can join UCU – http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=1675&detailid=5143

Dan Arthur
UCU Branch Secretary
http://ucu.lshtm.ac.uk
Twitter @lshtmUCU

Why vote for action on pay?

As you will by now be aware, UCU members – as well as our colleagues in UNISON, Unite and the GMB – have been balloted on taking industrial action over the employers’ derisory offer of a 1% pay rise.  Members have been suffering for some time now – we were offered 1% last year too.  The year before that we got £200, with 0.5% and 0.4% in the years before that.  Indeed, it’s fair to say that we’ve taken our share of the pain with a cumulative real-terms pay cut of 13.2% since 2008.  Another below-inflation pay rise this year will only see that figure climb further still.

But not everyone in Higher Education has seen their pay fall.  Vice-Chancellors, Provosts, Principals, Directors and Presidents have seen their pay rise by 26% in real-terms during the same austere period.  You could be forgiven for thinking that we’re not ‘all in this together’.  For that matter, it’s worth asking what ‘this’ actually is.  In the wake of the financial crisis, and that Government’s Higher Education reforms, there were understandable concerns about university finance and the need to reduce costs.  But those concerns have faded.  Student numbers are up, and the sector is recording a healthy surplus – £1bn a year, according to the most recent figures.  UCU believes that the sector – including the School – can easily afford our modest pay claim of inflation plus a degree of catch-up for previous years’ losses.

2004’s Pay Framework Agreement was meant to address the long-term issues around poor pay in the sector.  Pay rises in subsequent years allowed wages to keep place with inflation, and living standards to remain stable.  But since 2009, inflation has outpaced wages.  The gains of the Pay Framework Agreement are close to being wiped out entirely, with workers around 8.5% worse off now than we were in 2004, and a jaw-dropping 22% worse off than we were at the start of 2009.

This is a unique opportunity to win a fair pay rise.  Joint action with Unite, UNISON, the GMB and EIS will have a huge impact, and force the employers to take us seriously.  A failure to act now will result in further years of miserly pay offers, and may well spell the end for national pay bargaining.

No-one wants to take industrial action.  We are a community of committed academics and professionals, and we care about our School and the students we we serve.  But we deserve better, and have been left with little alternative but to ballot for action.  Over the course of two members’ meetings at the School – one each at Tavistock Place and Keppel Street – over 50 people came and heard the case for action.  At both of those meetings, members expressed their anger and disappointment at the way the insulting way we have been treated by the Universities and Colleges Employers Association.  Our employers aren’t interested in talking about equal pay.  They’re not interested in talking about a national framework on redundancy.  They’re not interested in offering us a pay rise that even keeps place with inflation.  And in some places, they’re not even prepared to discuss the Living Wage.

The ballot closes at midday on Wednesday.  If you’ve not voted yet, please do so now and vote YES to strike action and YES to action short of a strike.  Only a ‘yes’ to both questions will deliver the change we need.  Action short of a strike alone is not a viable option.  Indeed, a strong ‘yes’ to both questions offers us the best hope of avoiding strike action entirely, as the employers realise how seriously we are taking this situation.

The success of this campaign requires your support.  So yes, cast your vote for action on pay, and encourage your colleagues to do the same.  But there’s more you can do besides.  Recruit someone to UCU – tell them about the importance of joining a union, of personal protection and collective action.  Put up a poster in your kitchen area or by your desk – this campaign needs to be visible!  And get involved – our Branch Committee works hard, but we can’t do it all alone – the more people there are to do things, the more we can do for our members.  Get in touch – send us an email at ucu@lshtm.ac.uk.

We must be prepared for a potentially long fight.  It may that a sustained campaign is required in order to win a fair deal.  But with living costs soaring, this is a battle we quite literally cannot afford to lose.  The case for action is compelling, and together we can win.

Trade unions and the environment

This new course is designed for UCU members and reps who wish to develop their understanding of climate change and ways to protect the environment through change at work. It is intended to enable those taking part to develop as environment champions or reps.
Who should attend?
Members who have an interest in climate change issues and want to get more involved in the work of their branch; newly appointed environment reps, existing reps and branch officers.
This course will cover the following:
environment terminology and the current debate
legislation and other environmental information
environment management systems
current trade union policies and organisation
workplace and community strategies.

For further information and to register, please follow the link below:-

http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=4819

If you require further information please contact me.

Kind regards,

Chris Aitken
Regional Administrator
Eastern & Home Counties
UCU
Carlow Street
London NW1 7LH
Tel: 020 7756 2643
UPDATE YOUR DETAILS ONLINE – https://members.ucu.org.uk/

Green Workplaces – a guide for union representatives

This ETUC guide provides advice on good practice from trade union activists across the EU on how to get going on greening theirworkplaces. It includes excellent examples on energy use, using less resources, recycling and green travel, plus a walkround checklist. Our workplaces burn more energy, consume more resources, and generate more waste and travel than our home lives do. So the workplace is an excellent place to start.

Download: Green Workplaces – a guide for union representatives [PDF]

Pear Shaped for the Future?

During the Summer term the largest and possibly angriest meeting of UCU members took place at LSHTM. Many new members were present as they had been scared into joining by the Schools “In Shape for the future” presentations on Black Friday (30th March). In spite of claiming to be consulting the Schools unions the concerns of staff and reps were ignored and the Director and SLT blindly followed the decrees of the management consultant brought in to a significant restructure central services, even thought the Mannet Review recommended against it. No evidence the changes would work could be provided and on this basis LSHTM placed over 80 staff at risk of redundancies and were being told they would have to reapply for their own jobs. A high for HE institutions in London, an unprecedented low for industrial relations at LSHTM.
Resolutions by members of UCU and our sister unions at LSHTM called for a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies, a decent pay protection agreement and better consultation with ALL staff, as the whole School would be affected by the changes. These demands were backed up by a commitment to all necessary measures including balloting for industrial action. Following difficult (and often frustrating negotiations) local reps and full time officials, backed by this strong resolution from members, secured guarantees of no compulsory redundancies , secured a much longer and more comprehensive consultation period, and got an extension of pay protection for those staff that were downgraded.
The consultation secured some changes to the structure SLT’s decision to bulldoze through unsubstantiated changes to a number of central departments resulting in a several members choosing to leave or take early retirement as they could no longer work for an employer with such little regard for it’s staff. All of those staff are a great loss to the School and the lack of continuity and loss of experience to the School is cause for concern for LSHTM UCU. For those of us who remain SLT have created an atmosphere of mistrust, they have devastated moral and left staff, many of who have remained loyal to LSHTM through recent years of under-investment, feeling worthless. UCU has raised this with the Director and other members of SLT and our concerns have been ignored.
If this is the shape of things to come for the rest of central services and the faculties LSHTM will become a very sorry place to work.

Vote Now in the Pay Ballot!

7 reasons why you should vote YES to action on pay…
1.    Four years of real-terms pay cuts
Our pay has been cut by 11.6% in real terms in the last three years. It’s time to stop the erosion of living standards!
2.    Our claim is a fair one
Our claim of 7% only goes part of the way to making up for the pay cut in recent years, and continued inflationary pressure in the coming year; we’ve shown significant restraint in accepting real-terms pay cuts since 2009.
3.    The employers CAN afford it
Following years of uncertainty in the HE sector, most university institutions are now running at a surplus, with a more certain financial outlook.  LSHTM is in good financial shape.
4.    Private sector pay is increasing
Private sector pay increases averaged 3% in the last year, according to research by Income Data Services.
5.    Executive pay is still going up
Big pay increases continue to be awarded to senior staff across the university sector, whilst most lecturers and support staff have been forced to accept year after year of austerity
6.    Other unions are taking action too
UNISON have voted to take industrial action, and if UCU do too, we’re likely to do so on the same day.  Acting together brings us a greater chance of success!
7.    Taking action works!
UCU took industrial action over pay in 2007 and won a good deal for members.  People often worry about the cost of taking industrial action – the question is, with pay being eroded so badly, can you afford not to?