Branch updates

News in brief from SUCU Committee.

January Branch News: Say it again, Say it Louder!

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National UCU News

Ongoing Ballot: Say it again, Say it Louder

UCU’s reballot on our Fair Work and Fair Pay dispute opened last week, and by now you should have received your ballot in the mail. If you need a new ballot, request one here. And if you aren’t sure what contact details UCU has for you can check them here.

We know that many of you returned your ballots in the Autumn, and now you are being asked to do it again, but the issues we are in dispute over are simply too important to allow anti-trade union law to silence us. In the Autumn, 42% of UCU members responded to our ballot, and of those, almost 80% voted in favour of strike action. This is an incredibly strong response demonstrating that our members will not tolerate the continued and increasing inequalities in pay and working conditions in higher education.

Despite this strong response, we have seen no action on the part of our employers to address the concerns of the claim. They are hiding behind the 50% threshold and so we need to beat it, and make them come to the table to negotiate. However you vote, please return your ballot! We need to Say it Again, Say it Louder!

Remember, this ballot is aggregated. That means we must surpass 50% response rate together, and it means that every single vote from Sheffield supports not only our branch, but the entirety of UCU higher education.

On that note, Save the Date for Ballot Day on 5th February. Sheffield, along with many other branches across the UK, are holding a day of events centered around sending in our ballots and the issues at stake in this ballot.

  • Pizza party (vegan and gf options available) in the Interval between noon-1:30. We’ve booked out the space, and if you haven't voted yet, bring your ballot for a collective trip to the postbox in the SU, wearing your “I voted” stickers. If you’ve already voted and got a sticker, don’t worry –come and get another one!
  • In the Interval at the same time, we’ll also be holding a zine making event – we provide the art supplies, you provide the inspiration!
  • If you can’t make it to lunch or zine making, come after work for a drink. We will be back with more “I voted” stickers.
  • Look out for an email from us asking you to let us know if you've posted your ballot. The more who tell us they've voted, the fewer we have to chase!

    USS Latest

    As we approach the anniversary of the USS strike (Feb 22nd) the USS dispute continues to move forward. The first report of the Joint Expert Panel (JEP) from last Autumn not only vindicated UCU's position that the scheme is not in trouble, but also made a series of recommendations which offer something like a "no detriment" resolution to the dispute. These recommendations were unanimously backed by all members of the JEP, and have since received support from UCU and UUK representatives, along with the actuarial advisors of UCU and UUK (First Actuarial and Aon). We know that the process has been frustratingly slow at times, but this is an enormous shift from our position 12 months ago which would not have been possible without our unprecedented strike action last spring, and the continued pressure being put on USS by activists around the UK.

    The most recent developments have not been straightforward, as USS have embarked on a 2018 valuation which - contra the support of all of the parties mentioned above - plans to accept only some of the JEP recommendations. Negotiations are ongoing, and there is a lot of activity behind the scenes. We believe it is time for UUK to use their influence to lobby USS to implement the JEP in full, and home in on a solution to the dispute.

    For any members wanting more specific details on the recent developments with USS, SUCU Pensions Officer and National Dispute Committee member Jo Grady, and Branch President and USS negotiator Sam Marsh will be leading a session to update members fully, including a Q&A. The date for this is Wednesday 13th February, at 1pm in Hicks LT2. Please do come along!

    Sheffield UCU News

    We are hopeful that the frenzy of restructuring of the university, particularly of our professional services departments, may be slowing. Huge damage has been done to morale without much obvious gain, and we have let it be known to university management, including our new VC, that we do not have confidence in the direction the university has been taking. The restructuring has not stopped completely, with research support in departments currently in the firing line among others, so please support your colleagues where you can while we, along with the other Staffside unions, continue to push back.

    We have filed a collective grievance on behalf of our members over the USS strikes last year, in line with a motion brought by a member to a general meeting in the autumn and passed overwhelmingly. Negotiations are expected to start soon, and we will keep you informed of progress.

    We have invited all three candidates in the running for UCU's national presidential role to Sheffield on the lunchtime of Tuesday 19 February for a question and answer 'hustings'. The successful candidate becomes increasingly important within UCU over the subsequent three years, culminating in them chairing the supreme decision-making bodies within the union. We are very pleased that Jo McNeil and Vicky Blake will be attending; Adam Ozanne has declined. Please do come to make sure UCU's democracy is as informed as possible.

    Finally, we are desperately in need of members who are prepared to act as a caseworker in support of colleagues going through difficulties. Training is provided, and time off must be given by the university. Please write to us at ucu@sheffield.ac.uk to find out how you can get involved.

    Upcoming events

    • 19 February: Hustings for the UCU presidential election, with Vicky Blake and Jo McNeil, lunchtime (precise time and venue tbc).
    • 19 February: Save the date! Sheffield UCU is hosting an evening screening of Nae Pasaran, "the true story of the workers' solidarity against Pinochet". Full details to follow.
    • 26 February – 2 March: The Lantern Theatre is putting on ‘Rouse, Ye Women!’ - a folk ballad retelling the story of Mary Macarthur and the women chainmakers’ strike. Tickets available here.

    December Branch News: Open for a festive treat!

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    We've achieved so much this year, and - with the university now closed until January 2nd - now is the time to take a much overdue break. We’ve made our Christmas wishes: an apology from the university for their conduct during the strike, and the return of our withheld pay, as stated in our collective grievance. There’s lots else we want, too. So much, in fact, that we’ve made a music video about it. Christmas Number One surely beckons!

    SUCU News

    Attendees at our 29 October EGM passed a motion from the floor, which:
      Offered thanks to our students and @SheffieldSU for their solidarity during the USS Strike
      Called for the branch to file a collective grievance with @sheffielduni on behalf of all of our members, as this strike action would have been unnecessary had @universitiesUK and #USS acted transparently and in good faith. Instead, we were forced to withhold our labour to defend our pensions, and @sheffielducu members suffered an effective pay cut of up to 4%
      Demanded that TUoS commit to a one-off pay award equivalent to the wage deductions related to the USS dispute, to be paid to members no later than February 2019. For the avoidance of doubt, this should be funded by the university's surplus, not from funds earmarked for students.
    In recent months, our members have raised many concerns over how our deducted pay is being spent (or not being spent). In this grievance, we ask management to renew their commitment to fully and transparently fund (via the actual strike pay deductions) projects which support student welfare and student-focused projects. We want to know:
      What the total amount of strike deductions is i.e. the amount of the available money that is earmarked for the benefit of students, welfare and other departmental projects
      What impact this fund has had so far i.e. how much and on what has the money been spent on
      What the outstanding balance is and how will this be spent to further support students.
    Lastly, we are demanding a written apology from the President and Vice Chancellor both to students and staff regarding the mishandling of the USS dispute.

    Happy holidays!

    We want to wish all of a members a restful and enjoyable holiday season. Especially, we hope those members who have been put under undue pressure by redundancies and restructuring can find some rest and relaxation over the coming weeks. We have your back, and we’ll be fighting for you in the New Year.

    November Branch News: A new valuation and a new ballot

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    November Branch News

    This week is our final General Meeting of 2018, and it’s a big one! Over the past two weeks, there have been major developments in both our Fair and Equal Pay dispute and in the USS dispute, and we’ll be discussing how we can smash anti-trade union law in the Spring 2019 reballot on fair and equal pay.

      General Meeting: Thursday, 29 November 1-2pm, Council Room, Firth Court. Agenda here

    National UCU news

    On 7 November, UCU held an HE Special Sector Conference, with the morning focused on the pay equality dispute, and the afternoon on USS. Read our delegates’ full report here.

    RE-BALLOT on Fair and Equal pay

    In the Autumn ballot, Sheffield voted overwhelmingly in favor of strike action (69%), with 50% participation, making us one of 8 HE branches in the UK to pass the 50% threshold imposed by anti-trade union law. Many of the branches who missed this threshold did so by a mere handful of votes, and as a union, our aggregate response rate was 42%, with 68.9% voting for strike action, showing incredibly strong support for this campaign. If not for a deliberately obstructive piece of legislation, 134 out of 147 UCU branches in HE would have a mandate to be on strike right now. For comparison, that is over double the number of branches that were part of the USS strikes -- the largest strike action in UCU's history to date.

    Last week, UCU members at the three London colleges that make up Capital City College Group (CCCG) ended an 8 day strike which resulted in a winning a 5% pay rise for all members earning less than £55,000/yr (backdated to December 2018), as well as several other significant concessions. Industrial action is incredibly powerful.

    Our employer learned this lesson hard way during the USS strikes, and they are very aware that they need to be worried about it now. This is why in October, they were advised by the Pinsent Masons to "make a direct appeal to staff to abstain or vote against a trade union ballot for strike action." Industrial action is our last resort mechanism against unacceptable and unsustainable working conditions, a way to force negotiation with an employer who will not negotiate.

    Casualisation, crushing workloads, and pay inequalities harm every UCU member. They harm our undergraduate students. They harm our families. And they harm our newest post-graduate and ECR members most of all. And year on year, our employer refuses to negotiate on them, while at the same time actively misrepresenting their ability to right these wrongs.These are exactly the unacceptable and unsustainable working conditions we have to fight.

    At our Extraordinary GM on 29th October, SUCU passed a motion calling for an HE-wide aggregated re-ballot in early Spring 2019. This was passed as Motion 5 at the HE Special Sector conference, and is now the official national policy of UCU: We are re-balloting on fair and equal pay and we need your help. We can beat the 50% threshold at a national level, but it will require all hands on deck.

    How can I get involved?

      Attend our action group on activism and local organising on 10 December, 4-5pm, in Hicks F41. Come help shape our GTVO campaign, and help us grow our local campaigns on casualisation, workload, and gender equality into national framework agreements that can help every single member of UCU. After the meeting, we'll be adjourning to the Uni Arms to continue discussing rank and file activism and how much we want week 12 to be over, so if you can't make the meeting at 4, come join us after work!

    USS

    A report from First Actuarial on the 2017 valuation is only the latest to highlight the fundamental methodological issues with Test 1, and to actively question the governance of USS, asking "Is the Trustee in control?". This follows on from the independent Joint Expert Panel report and the efforts of members since April to keep pressure on USS to be more forthcoming about how they value our scheme, which has forced further scrutiny & openness about the use and implications of Test 1.

    Each of these sources have supported the conclusion that the aggressive de-risking pursued by USS and UUK was unnecessary, and has entirely vindicated our decision to strike. As a direct result of our continued collective efforts, the USS Trustee announced last week that they intend to conduct a new valuation of USS in 2019, based on the scheme's funding position of March 2018. Implementation of the JEP's recommendations, which are predicated on strong asset growth, suggest that a 2018 valuation is likely to conclude -- as we have always argued is correct and fair – a broadly #NoDeficitNoDetriment outcome for members.

    We are not out of the woods yet though. Bill Galvin and the USS Trustee still intend to impose the cost-sharing that arose out of the 2017 valuation, and to use Test 1 in the new valuation, demonstrating a lack of integrity and humility in the face of the repeated discrediting of the 2017 valuation and its methodology.

    Our branch will continue to oppose this negligence.

    SUCU news

    Disability History Month

    Last week was the first week of National Disability History Month, and on 21 November, UCU held its first annual Day of Action on Disability Equality. If you missed our local events, you can learn about the experience of disability here at Sheffield from this anonymous blog post, by five members of the SUCU community: Inclusion is within everyone's ability: The reality of disability at TUoS. Additionally, a group of local SUCU activists have put together this must read pamphlet on disability support and advocacy resources.

    Workload and Stress campaign

    Workplace safety -- particularly stress -- is one of the most pressing issues that SUCU members speak to our case workers about. In line with the national campaign on workload which is part of our ongoing Casualisation, Equalities, Pay and Workload dispute, we are beginning our own local campaign on workload.

    To kick off this campaign, we designed a short survey on health and safety and circulated it to you two weeks ago. Thanks to everyone who has already taking our survey, and if you haven’t, please do! It takes only 5 minutes to complete and asks for no personally identifying data. We will use it to develop action plans and open discussions with university management about the biggest areas of workplace hazards you are concerned about, and it will also feed into our local workload campaign.

    Note that in order to take the survey, you must be signed into your TUoS google account, and that you may also need to sign out of all other google accounts.

    Building the branch

    Over the past year, SUCU has become a huge, active branch that is involved in union campaigning at an unprecedented scale. At our last GM, we passed a motion to build this branch activism from the ground up, both via our formal branch representatives network, and via informal networking by members.

    How can I get involved?

      However you want to be involved! We have pledged to support our members in developing informal networks, and engaging with activism from the shop floor up. Check out the Branch Activists Handbook, with contributions from a huge range of UCU activists around the country, including sections on activism over workload, anti-casualisation, and equalities issues, and union democracy and branch organisation, and contact us with ideas at ucu@sheffield.ac.uk.
      Please remember that all members can bring motions to general meetings too, or can call an emergency general meeting with 50 members’ signatures. We try hard to make the branch meetings as accessible as possible, but we know that not everyone can make it to every meeting for a range of reasons. If you have points you want to raise about proposed motions and you can’t make it, email us - one of the branch committee will make the contribution on your behalf in the meeting.
      Also, make sure that we have the most up to date contact information for you by logging into your My UCU account and updating your preferred email address!

    A new VC

    On 1 November, Professor Koen Lamberts began his role as President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Sheffield. The new VC has taken up this role at a difficult time in HE, when staff feel a deep lack of trust in university management, both at a national and local level here at Sheffield. Moving forward, it will require a commitment to transparency and hard work to rebuild this trust that has been broken: to redress the wrongs of the USS dispute; to reverse the trends of ever declining pay and ever increasing workload; to reverse the sector (and local) reliance on precarious contracts, restructures, and redundancies; and to resist the hostile environment and support international staff facing exorbitant home office fees, and all of the other issues facing our members.

    Discussions about the problems facing HE staff across all of our campus trade unions cannot begin too soon, and we are looking forward to meeting Professor Lamberts on 12 December, to discuss how the University of Sheffield can address these problems in a meaningful way.

    Solidarity

    Six FE UCU branches are going on strike over fair pay this week, including Bradford College UCU in our region. These colleges are taking two days’ action on 28th and 29th November. If you’re able, please visit them on the picket line to show support or tweet your support to #FEFightsbackMembers. Members can also donate to the fighting fund, and sign the petition calling on the government to increase funding to sustainable levels.

    The Free University of Sheffield are running a Cut the Rent Campaign. Rents for University of Sheffield accommodation are becoming increasingly unaffordable - you can sign the petition calling on the University to improve things.

    The RMT are still taking action every week over their ‘keep the guard on the train’ campaign. Please support them if you can - there will be a rally on Saturday 15th December supported by Sheffield TUC, so save the date, further details on location to follow.

    Following a peaceful protest in support of the USS strikes in the spring, a Music and History student at SOAS, Hamish, has been singled out by SOAS management for disciplinary measures. The inconsistencies of the disciplinary process have been documented by the statement that outlines how the initial investigation and hearing obstructed Hamish’s ability to defend himself. Hamish is preparing to take his case to the Office of Independent Adjudicator, and he is raising legal funds to adequately prepare the case. We believe it is important that student activists are protected on campus. If you wish to donate to Hamish’s legal campaign, you can contribute here.

    October Branch News: Beyond the ballot

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    October Branch News

    With so much happening at a local and national level, we are very aware that an hour is not enough time for a full member discussion, so in addition to our monthly General Meeting on the 31st, we are calling an Extraordinary General Meeting on 29 October to discuss the ongoing Fair Pay and USS disputes.

      Extraordinary General Meeting on the Fair pay and USS disputes: 1-2pm 29 October, Hicks Lecture Theatre 7.
      Monthly GM: 1-2pm 31 October, Firth Court Council Room, guest Douglas Chalmers (UCU VP). Agenda here.
      Party: After the GM on 31 October, we are having a Halloween branch party at the Devonshire Cat, from 5:30pm. Let us know if you’re coming by RSVPing here, and we hope to see everyone there! In honor of the holiday, there will be prizes for the best union themed fancy dress.
      Pay dispute action Group:1-2pm 7 November, Hicks F38

    National UCU news

    Fair and Equal pay ballot

    The results of the ballot on Fair and Equal pay are out. Sheffield has voted overwhelmingly in favor of both strike action (69%) and action short of a strike (78%), with 50% participation. Across both HE and FE, many branches voted in support of strike action and a lot by very substantial margins - but very few branches reached the 50% threshold required by the Trade Union Act.

    This is undoubtedly a disappointing and surprising result, but it still remains the largest turnout UCU has ever had on a ballot over pay. Aggregating across HE, there is a 42% turnout, with 68.9% of respondents voting yes to strike action. This is a huge step for our union, and it only underscores the increased involvement of our members over the past year.

    Locally, we want to thank everyone who took part in the ballot and GTVO campaign. Sheffield did make the 50% cutoff, and it is because of your work and engagement over these last months. Although national strike action will be impossible, we want to stress that we remain in dispute over fair and equal pay. The crisis of increasing casualisation and workloads have not disappeared. The gender pay gap in this country, and our sector, remains. The stark generational decline in pay is still unacceptable, and we know -- from looking at the University of Sheffield’s own budget -- that the funds to pay staff fairly do exist.

    We are still in dispute, and a lack of national result on this ballot does not mean we will stop fighting for these issues, either at a local or a national level. The members of this branch committee are already discussing the next steps of this dispute. And we want all of our members involved in that discussion.

    4 representatives from SUCU will be attending a regional conference on the pay dispute on 7 November, and on the same day, we will be hosting a local pay dispute action group. We want to talk to as many of our members as possible about what Sheffield UCU, as a branch, wants to happen moving forward. If you can, please attend our EGM on Monday, 29 October, speak with your department representatives, come to the pay dispute action group. If you want to be involved with our local pay dispute committee, please contact us at ucu@sheffield.ac.uk.

    USS

    We emailed you all last week about Sam Marsh’s recent analysis showing that the valuation methodology used by USS is fundamentally flawed, providing further evidence that there is no deficit, and that our pensions scheme does not require the aggressive de-risking that was argued for by USS, UUK, and our own new VC Koen Lamberts, in his previous role as Chair of the Employers’ Pension Forum for Higher Education. USS themselves have responded that Sam’s analysis is “not wrong in isolation.” Since then, developments have been happening daily. To catch up on Sam’s analysis as well as USS’ initial response, we highly recommend this article by FT Pensions correspondent Josephine Cumbo, as well as this summary of events published in USS briefs. Here also is a link to Sam’s original report of his findings, and Mike Otsuka has written several blogs on the topic throughout this week and last, with this one being the most recent.

    We know this is an enormous amount of new information to keep track of at an extremely busy time of year! We will be giving an update of all of the developments to date at our EGM next Monday as well.

    SUCU news

    This week sees the return of the Staff Survey, and while we were very glad to hear that for the first time the University will be surveying casual staff and graduate teaching assistants alongside the rest of the workforce, we remain concerned that University management claims that the staff survey is sufficient as an institution-wide risk assessment. Given this, it is especially important we let them know about areas where we're feeling the pressure, and we urge all SUCU members to complete the form fully and honestly. If you missed our blog post on stress, workload and mental health two weeks ago, read it here. Results from the staff survey will be important for everyone, particularly now, as we transition to our new PVC Koen Lamberts - so please do complete it.

    The Branch Activists Handbook, with contributions from a huge range of UCU activists around the country, has come out! There is a lot of excellent material in it, including sections on activism over workload, anti-casualisation, and equalities issues, and a submission on union democracy and branch organisation by our own VP Jess Meacham.

    In related news, we are asking for expressions of interest for a possible new role of Branch Governance and Policy Officer. This role would involve taking an overview of current university policy and governance, as it relates to our ongoing local and national campaigns. Please write us at ucu@sheffield.ac.uk if you are potentially interested in this role, or have questions about it.

    As we mentioned last month, we are also seeking more members to be involved in branch case work, particularly given the high volume of work that has arisen surrounding Sheffield’s continuing restructures of professional services teams. Again, please write us at ucu@sheffield.ac.uk if you are interested or have questions about this.

    Upcoming Events

    Saturday 27 October: Stop and Scrap Universal Credit rally, 11.30am - 1.30pm, Sheffield Town Hall

    Tuesday, 30 October: From Trump to Tommy Robinson... How can we stop the racist and fascist right?. 6:00 - 7:30pm, Sheffield Hallam University

    Thursday, 8 November: Support Northern Train Guards: Public Meeting, 6.00pm - 8.00pm, Showroom Cinema and Workstation

    September Branch News: GTVO for Fair Pay, national consultations, and the JEP report

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    September Branch News

    Next meeting: 2nd October, 1pm, Octagon Council Chamber An open meeting to discuss both the pay dispute and where we go next on USS following the JEP report - please come along and share your views.

    National UCU news

    Fair pay: the ballots are out!

    On 30 August, UCU sent out ballots to members of 147 institutions, including post-92 and FE institutions, meaning that almost 90% of our membership are currently voting on whether we should take part in strike action, and action short of a strike.

    The USS strike was a historic event with unprecedented sector participation, and our fight for fair pay has the potential to be over twice as large. With UNISON members also being balloted, this dispute is sector-wide in a way that has never been seen before in education. If over twice the number of institutions who were involved in USS threaten industrial action, we will send a message that our employers simply cannot ignore.

    As a committee, we believe that action on this scale is not only warranted, but that the current state of marketization of Higher Education demands it. Our employer cannot continue to increase our workload while cutting our pay in real terms. Our employer cannot continue to appeal to austerity budgets to justify their lack of investment in staff, while engaging in restructures that place staff at the lowest grades at risk, and increasing the salaries of the highest paid individuals at the university. The Goldsmiths and Southampton UCU branches have put together resources which outline the numbers underlying this hypocrisy, and over the coming weeks, we will be sending you resources with our equally stark figures here at Sheffield.

    Ballots must be received by 19 October. If you need a replacement ballot, request one here. Just as in the USS dispute, please remember that because of the 2016 changes to trade union law, we must have at least a 50% turnout or we cannot take industrial action, so please vote! This committee endorses a YES-YES vote.

    How can you get involved?

      Come to our meeting on 2 October at 1pm, in the Octagon Council Chamber! In addition to presenting data on declining pay at the University of Sheffield, we will be taking questions. In the meantime, keep your eyes open for department meetings about the dispute, and please keep talking about the underlying issues. This is about much more than a pay raise, it is about adequate, fair, and equal compensation for labour in HE. Do you want to write about an issue related to the pay dispute for the Sheffield UCU blog? We would love to hear from you.

    USS Update

    After several months of waiting, September has been a huge month for USS news!

    Last week, the Joint Expert Panel released their report, based on expert testimony they have been collecting over the past 3 months. The report corroborates the claims that UCU activists have been making for over a year now regarding the unsuitability of Test 1, and the health of the Scheme. Both Josephine Cumbo and USS Briefs offer clear summaries of the report, and if after the summer, you are looking to refresh your memory of events leading up to the JEP report, USSBriefs44 provides a summary up through August.

    The JEP’s report comes on the heels of an article on USS in Times Higher Education co-authored by the former head of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, stating that “...it is plain that the USS is not facing a funding crisis now or in the reasonably foreseeable future,” and that “The increase in the ‘deficit’ is wholly attributable to changes in the assumptions made in the process of technical valuation, at a time when the finances of the USS have substantially strengthened.”

    With all of this new information, it is clear that substantial negotiations and discussions will occur over the coming months, at both a national and local level. Sheffield continues to be at the forefront of these discussions, through our local USS working group, and at a national level, with representation on the Joint Negotiating Committee, and through the newly formed National USS dispute committee, which includes three members of Sheffield UCU: our pensions officer Jo Grady was elected to represent the South Yorkshire and Humber region; Anti-Casualisation officer Sam Morecroft will be representing the national Anti-Casualisation Committee; and branch member Themesa Neckles is representing the national Disabled Members Standing Committee.

    How can you get involved?

      All UCU members are entitled to provide Feedback on the USS member consultation! At the end of August, the USS trustee proposed significant increases to member and employer contribution. This proposal was made without waiting for the JEP report, and especially in light of the JEP’s conclusions that the scheme is healthy and extensive contribution increases are not necessary, we suggest that members respond to the employer consultation to express your opinions. We’ve written up some of our committee’s response bullet points for you to look at, in case they are helpful.

    Balloting for the democracy commission and NEC casual vacancy

    Earlier this week, we wrote to you about the Democracy Commission, which will examine the democratic processes of our Union, including leadership structure and how important decisions are made. This commission has arisen out of the branch motion passed by Sheffield UCU at our April EGM, which was passed at UCU Congress.

    All members should have received an electronic ballot to vote for HE and FE representation on the commission. We have been asked by many members for our recommendations for this ballot, and on Tuesday, we sent around our voting recommendations, which include the candidates that we, as a committee, believe best support the grassroots, member-led momentum that arose out of the USS strike action. Most importantly, we endorse our Vice President Jess Meacham, a co-author of the original branch motion, who is standing for an HE position.

    You should have also received a paper ballot to fill a casual vacancy on the UCU National Executive Council, for the representative of black members (who shall be a woman). Of the three standing candidates, the committee endorses Naina Kent (Hackney Adult Education), who we believe would bring a great deal of previous TU activist experience to the role.

    As always though, we encourage you to read candidate statements and come to your own decisions. If you are missing either ballot, you can contact Kay Metcalfe (kmetcalfe@ucu.org.uk, tel: 020 7756 2500) to request a replacement.

    SUCU news

    Two weeks ago, we held an Extraordinary Branch meeting, where we discussed our ongoing national campaigns, as well as local issues such as restructures. We unanimously passed three motions. The first was a motion of No confidence in the current approach to organisational change.

    We also unanimously passed a motion to support and donate to the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union organiser fund, which will help to organise trade union support for low paid workers in the South Yorkshire area, including (but not limited to) fast food workers.

    Lastly, we passed a motion in support of the Campaign to reinstate Jim Newell, who was summarily dismissed from the University of Salford based on a set of flawed criteria that reflect the ongoing marketisation of HE.

    Click here to see all of the branch motions in their final versions, including any amendments that were made from the floor.

    On 12th September, the Times Higher published an article about the way that the University of Sheffield is using its apprenticeship levy - in part to fund senior managers to take our MBAs. See here for more.

    In other local Sheffield news, following on from an extensive campaign by Sheffield Save Our NHS, centralised emergency care will be staying in Sheffield! Read more about this major victory here, and a massive thank you to all of our members who continue to devote their time and energy to this campaign.

    Upcoming Events

    Monday, 24 September: Sheffield TUC is hosting a performance of 1868, a play about 150 years of union struggle. This forms part of a festival of events running until 6th October in conjunction with Sheffield People’s Assembly Against Austerity - Vision Sheffield, which believes that ‘a better, fairer world is possible’. For full details, contact tucsheffield@gmail.com.

    Until 27th September, an exhibition called Dystopia and Resistance is running at the Millennium Galleries as part of the Festival of the Mind. Check out the USS strike quilt here.

    Friday, 28 September: As part of its Regional Equalities Forum, the TUC is holding its first Yorkshire Regional Women's Conference, which is open to all women trade unionists in the region.

    Wednesday, 3 October, 3-5pm: As part of Black History month, UCU’s Yorkshire and Humber Black and Minority Ethnic Network are running a seminar on ‘Surviving the workplace – empowering yourself’ at Leeds Beckett University, Woodhouse Lane, Broadcasting Place, Room A103. All UCU members welcome!