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Three ballots

January 25, 2011

Over the coming days, the blog here at the University of Leeds UCU will be presenting information around the local dispute, the national trade dispute and the pensions dispute, and the three associated ballots, papers for which members at Leeds will be receiving soon.

One ballot covers the National Dispute with the university over the proposed changes to our pension scheme, USS.

UCU believe that the board of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) needed to properly consider the results of the union’s consultation on changes to the USS pension scheme. Responding to the decisions made at the USS board meeting on 20 January, the union said the board’s suggestion of modifications to two strands of the employers’ proposals had not gone far enough. In a ballot of over 31,000 USS members conducted by UCU, 96% said they did not support the employers’ radical changes to the scheme. In contrast, the USS official consultation received just 5,000 responses from USS members and the board has not released what they said.

Another ballot covers our National Trade Dispute over Pay and Jobs.

For the second year running, the university employers’ organisation has:
● refused to negotiate a nationally agreed approach to improve job security and defend provision
● failed to address equality matters
● offered a real-terms pay cut.

University staff face the worst job cuts for a generation. Thousands of jobs have already gone in our sector. 40,000 more staff are at risk from government plans to make further cuts. As part of the national claim, we asked for talks aimed at agreeing national proposals to improve job security. For two years now, the employers have consistently refused to engage with us on this issue. The joint union claim also asked for action to improve the conditions of the lowest paid and most vulnerable staff, tackle the abuse of casual contracts and close the gender pay gap. The employers are split but your union is united. UCU delegates from across the country met at the end of November and agreed that if the employers continued to refuse to talk to us about measures to improve job security, and if they continued to attack our pensions, then we would ballot for strike action and action short of a strike early in the New Year. The defence of jobs is the key means by which courses, schools and universities can be defended.

A third ballot is over compulsory redundancies and the failure of the university to adhere to its side of the March 2010 agreement

This ballot is in line with our nem con decisions taken at the General Meetings of January 12th 2011 and November 9th 2010.

The University of Leeds issued a Section 188 notice of redundancy in November 2010 which referred to the closure of the Centre for Joint Honours. According to the March 2009 agreement between the University and the UCU, Joint Honours staffs were entitled to be made offers of MIS/PRT prior to restructuring (Stage 3 of the Agreement on the Avoidance of Redundancy). Job Descriptions were also produced which omitted roles for most of our members. Without consultation, University Council also decided to implement ‘Academic Activity Profiles’, a methodology facilitating pre-selection for redundancy. Finally, the university have cherry-picked the March Agreement, restructuring half the university. Whilst we had agreed to 7 reviews initially, we are now faced with 17 reviews and still no School Constitutions, Facilities Agreement or rationalization of review.

Not only have our members in Joint Honours been ‘displaced’ from their jobs, but 14 staff members in the Faculty of Biological Sciences face a similar situation. Over the coming days, this blog will detail the points of the current local dispute.

Members can learn more and participate in discussions by attending Thursday’s Emergency General Meeting (Roger Stevens Lecture Theatre 7, 12 – 1pm, Thursday 27th January) where we will discuss the reasons for declaring these disputes with the employer.

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