ALL UNION MEETING: THURSDAY 30 JULY 2020, 1PM
We would like to invite you to a collective Campus Trade Union members meeting this Thursday. This is for UCU, UNISON, Unite and GMB union members only and so has a sign up list . The Campus Trade Unions will send login details out to everyone who does register. Our next UNISON branch meeting will take place w/c 10th August (exact date tbc), members will be contacted next week with further details.
BRANCH UPDATE FOR MEMBERS
As UNISON branch committee we wanted to give some background on the situation the University has put us into, as staff at risk of being dismissed and re-engaged on poorer working conditions.
When COVID started we pushed hard for effective dialogue and were listened to. We pushed hard on discussing safety for staff staying on site, working from home and teaching remotely and were eventually listened to. We now have regular weekly and fortnightly meetings with management on general matters and health and safety specifically and had felt this was a good way of working through any problems collectively. Through all of this we have engaged on behalf of all staff and committed fully to working with the employer on a range of matters from staff safety, to researchers returning to concerns over finances.
And we are, frankly, a little disappointed. Suddenly those discussions have escalated from open and frank, to being aware that if we don’t agree to something it might be implemented anyway (section 188). This has been a bit of a shock and we are mindful that the Management Team are clear they feel they have no other way to engage. It’s a complete shift from where we were a week before. And we had to challenge that.
They are suggesting time limiting open and wide-ranging discussions on aspects from loss of increment to wholesale pay cuts. With the clear intent to implement anyway if felt needed, no matter what staff say. We spent 28 days to work collectively on a COVID 19 risk assessment for safe working. 90 days to change everyone’s working lives here, everyone’s working conditions and pay, well it is a big ask and at a time when many staff are working different hours to usual to cope with childcare and caring responsibilities, while preparing for teaching a combination of online and in person, while running exam boards, while still working on campus, while trying to take annual leave before semester starts again, and before we actually even know what the financial picture actually is. Some staff have really limited access to IT and to us, as Trade Unions, an effective and proper negotiation doesn’t mean just sending out an email – it means actual engagement with all staff, the to and fro of discussion to come up with ideas and decisions from the ground up.
ENGAGEMENT WITH MEMBERS
You will see from the university website that some of our concerns about this have been made public. (We’d been told to keep negotiations confidential to the room). We’ve been told that because we held one meeting where less than ten percent of members turned up it is clear the process is totally fair and compliant, and we can meaningfully engage with all. We see that differently. But to be clear, if membership and all staff feel this is a fair and reasonable engagement and sample size we will move on. We do not work for us – we are volunteers who give up time to support all staff to get the best working conditions we can. We work here.
Despite our disappointment, we will of course continue to engage in dialogue and seek to understand where we are and how we can all, as staff, work to help the university management to fix the problem it finds itself in.
Like many we were surprised at the finance side of this – we’d been told for years we are in a great position, a strong position to weather a storm. All of a sudden, we are told we are really not. We’ve asked for further information on the finances. In smaller localised consultations for 90 days, we usually get a big pack giving all the information and while management have started the 90 day process without this, we hope to get this information through so we can have time to work out how we are here and what we can do as staff to pitch in and help fix the issues.
MEMBERS INVITED TO HAVE THEIR SAY
Our role is to get information, to meaningfully engage with all staff and take those views and approaches to the negotiating room.
When we are all on campus, we can often just meet and chat. However, currently this involves phone calls, video meetings and emails. We are sending out a survey next week and arranging members meetings via video link but need to know we can reach out and involve all of you.
How all 8,000 of us get together to work through this in such a short time frame is a question we all have to work together to answer because it has been made clear – that time is limited, the option to change things regardless is still there. While we will be asking for dedicated time set aside for staff to properly engage in this, please tell us how best this would work for you – you can contact us on the branch email address – firstname.lastname@example.org.