The Friday email: 23 September 2022

Respect FE: support our strike

On Monday the union will launch a wave of strikes in further education colleges over pay, workload and professional respect and participating college branches across England have been busy preparing for this unprecedented action. The full dates of strike action are:

  • Monday 26, Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 September (3 days)
  • Thursday 6 and Friday 7 October (2 days)
  • Monday 10 and Tuesday 11 October (2 days)
  • Tuesday 18 Wednesday, 19 and Thursday 20 October (3 days).

Show your solidarity by visiting a picket line and donating to UCU’s fighting fund and using #RespectFE to post messages of support across social media.

UCU Rising: getting the vote out

Members, branches and head office have been working flat out this week to get the vote out in our national higher education ballot. We know that many of you have been or are still away, but please make sure that the first thing you do when you receive your ballot is fill it in and stick it in the postbox. You can let us know that you’ve voted or request a replacement ballot paper here.

Yesterday we hosted a UCU Live event with president-elect Justine Mercer walking us through how negotiations with your employers over pay and pensions have gone and why we have no choice but to rise up. You can watch that back here.

Next Thursday (29 September) at 19:30 we are hosting a HUGE UCU Live solidarity event with figures from across the trade union movement, and even some familiar faces from your TV screens. This is one you don’t want to miss on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Novus prison branch: ballot now open!

Novus UCU prison education members have received their ballot papers in a dispute over pay and gate time. Members are urged to vote this weekend (Monday 26 at the latest) and remind colleagues to do the same. This is to avoid a postal backlog as a result of planned CWU strikes on Friday 30 September and Saturday 1 October. For a Novus replacement ballot please click here.

University of Wolverhampton UCU rally

UCU declared a dispute with the University of Wolverhampton over the suspension of student recruitment onto 146 courses and redundancies. Wolverhampton UCU is holding a rally tomorrow afternoon (Saturday 24 September) from 14:00 to 16:00 at the Wolverhampton Civic Center. UCU branches are invited to come along and bring their banners.

ONS review of the FE sector classification

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) is in the process of deciding whether to re-classify the further education (FE) sector from the private to the public sector which could then provide the same financial benefits enjoyed by schools to the FE sector. While UCU has no formal estimates of how much the benefits could be, some estimates are in the region of hundreds of thousands of pounds per college per year depending on the size of the college and number of students. The ONS may announce its decision by the end of September 2022. UCU will be keeping a close eye on this issue over the next few weeks and we will keep you updated.

Open University UCU win for associate lecturers

You may have heard about the fantastic deal secured by Open University UCU branch with nearly 5,000 associate lecturers transferred to permanent contracts with improved terms and conditions. We’ve provided an analysis of the agreement at OU and explored how it could be used elsewhere.

October is Black History Month

Black History Month is an opportunity to celebrate black history and energize black and white activists in the anti-racist fight. Please let us know what your branch is planning. UCU’s Black members standing committee is holding an online Black History Month event on Wednesday 19 October 17: 00-18: 30 and you can register here.

Support jailed Saudi women’s rights activist, Salma al-Shehab

UCU has written to the UK foreign secretaryregarding the case of Salma al-Shehab, a PhD student at the University of Leeds who has been sentenced by the Saudi authorities to 34 years in jail for her peaceful Twitter activity. Please sign this open letter requesting urgent action by the UK government.

Leaving higher education? The state of work in UK universities

Researchers based at the universities of Bristol and Swansea are currently investigating why academic and professional services staff are leaving UK higher education to take up alternative forms of employment. Individuals who have left academic or professional services posts in a UK university since January 2020 or are thinking of leaving academic or professional services posts are invited to respond here.

TUC Long Covid survey

2 million people in the UK are now experiencing symptoms of Long Covid and continuing infection rates mean many more people are likely to experience it. If you have, or have had Long Covid, please complete the TUC’s survey here and share with others you know. It closes on 9 October.

UCU monkeypox briefing

UCU’s monkeypox briefing here gives reps and members an overview of the disease, how it spreads and what employers should consider in their risk assessments.

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