Christmas Branch News: a turning tide?
If you haven’t posted your USS ballot yet, what are you waiting for? We will be chasing up people individually in the New Year. If you’re not sure which way to vote, perhaps see our ‘Ten reasons why USS is a scandal waiting to bite back‘.
Christmas Branch News
We look back over the year and find plenty to be cheerful about, with signs that staff are beginning to take the initiative in Higher Education.
It’s been quite a year. We’ve often focused on the bad in our mailouts, but, so as not to dampen Christmas cheer, we thought it was the time to look at the good, and remind ourselves of where collective resolve has had a positive impact.
Our International Staff were at the forefront of our minds this year. With all at this university proud that #WeAreInternational, we have campaigned hard to remind our executive board that a hashtag is only a start. We now have the ear of the Vice-Chancellor, who we are meeting in the new year to discuss what practical measures can be taken to make sure our international colleagues feel properly valued by the university and remain eager to stay here.
In a reminder of the power of the collective, a strong response from members to the University’s Saturday Open Days enabled us to present a robust defence of the importance of rest days, and forced a substantial rethink in the guidance to managers. We are happy that staff on lower grades are now being treated well, and that those at higher grades who do not normally work on Saturdays are agreeing to come in voluntarily. Additionally, the University has committed to reviewing the impact of the change with us later in the year.
Vice-Chancellor pay hit the headlines this autumn and, in a clear sign that the staff voice across the sector is growing, Dame Glynis Breakwell of Bath was forced to resign by the staff of her university. Other unpopular highly paid VCs are also under increasing pressure. We are hopeful that this represents a something of a turning point, with recent unsustainable pay trends starting to have repercussions. The new year will bring our university’s financial statement, and we look forward to giving the figures proper scrutiny.
The biggest story in the recent months has been the USS pension scheme. We were very pleased to see that the national negotiations have been extended into January, beyond what had been presented as a firm deadline. A strong ballot response is now even more crucial, so make sure you return yours. We were also pleased to see our Vice-Chancellor respond to the petition of almost 300 of our staff calling on him to make his views known. We think he can say more on this issue, so please continue to sign!
Finally, please do remember to have a proper break over Christmas. See you in the New Year!
Sheffield UCU Committee
USS: keep up with the news on Twitter!
We have been making sure that all the breaking news on USS is featured prominently on our Twitter account. As well as all the latest developments and in-depth analysis, we have also found time for a more light-hearted take on things. Please do re-tweet and share our posts to make sure the counter-arguments to those being presented by Universities UK get heard.
Sign the petition against the ‘Sacker’s Charter’ at Leeds University
If you haven’t already done so, please sign the petition in support of staff at Leeds University, whose management are trying to push through a new clause allowing dismissal ‘for some other substantial reason’. UCU members in Leeds have been on strike in protest at the proposed changes, and need our support!
- Gender pay gap widening for women in their 20s, data shows, Alexandra Topping, The Guardian, 10 November
- If babies can share, why can’t highly paid university vice-chancellors?, Michele Hanson, The Guardian, 4 December
Dates for the diary
- Tue 16 Jan, 13:00-14:00, Action Group on Sexual Misconduct, Hicks F20
- Thu 18 Jan, 13:00-14:00, Departmental Contacts Meeting, Chancellors Room, Firth Court
- Thu 25 Jan, 13:00-14:00, General Meeting, Council Room, Firth Court
- Wed 31 Jan, 13:00-14:00, Action Group on USS, Room tbc
- We are the Lions, Mr Manager, The Lantern Theatre, 28 February. (“The story of Jayaben Desai… makes you laugh, feel and think… a powerful story, powerfully told“, Clare Brennan. The Observer)