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December, 2016:

Defending the Rights of EU Nationals – Guide for Members & Branches

The Eastern and Home Counties has been raising the issue of EU staff, the impact of Brexit and the rise of racism with all of our employers. We now have a national guide for branches that is available on the UCU website and the link can be found in the email to branches sent out last week and appended below.

Branches can take several simple steps to raise this issue and support their members:

  1. Look at the national policy in appendix three of the guide and consider adopting it for your branch perhaps amended to reflect your local situation.
  2. Ask management to issue a joint statement on Brexit using our Charter as a starting point
  3. Find out where in the employer’s structures the issues raised by Brexit are being discussed and see whether you can be invited to sit on any specific committee (NB At Essex University, UCU has been invited to sit on the University Brexit committee so there is precedent in the sector). If this is refused then ask for regular updates on your employer’s plans on Brexit and make it a standing item for your Consultative/Negotiating committee
  4. Find out what support is available for EU staff from your employer and make sure that is it publicised within your membership
  5. Find out what support is available to staff who might be experiencing racism, either in their workplace or in their community. Make sure that the employer is committed to supporting their staff wherever they may be facing racist attacks and publicise that support
  6. Publicise the support that members can obtain on immigration advice from UCU, which can be found here
  7. Start planning now how you can build the issues arising from Brexit into your recruitment campaign
  8. Consider surveying your members to find out what they think the main issues are that they will be facing as a consequence of Brexit. Regardless of whether members voted for Brexit or not, there are clearly matters that are going to arise as a consequence. This may be an issue that you can find new activists to get involved over, so make that one of the questions.

Please keep the Regional Office informed on any successes you have or any additional actions that you think branches can take and we will then share out good practice.

Email from head office:

 

To: All branch officers | Cc: NEC, regions, admins & staff

 

Dear colleagues Defending the rights of EU nationals is one of the priority campaign areas for UCU. The campaigns team have produced a guide for branches and members that outlines UCU concerns in the post-school education sector post-Brexit, and the actions we are encouraging members to take in response. Branches are being asked to take action in this campaign. The next steps are outlined in the guide.

  • Set branch policy
  • Seek and promote agreement from key stakeholders (e.g. management, student unions etc.)
  • Recruit and organise EU nationals and other international staff

The guide and the resources are available at this link. Support is available Recruitment campaigns can be tricky at the best of times. Our plan to mobilise, recruit, and organise EU and other international staff is ambitious. The national campaigns team is available to assist branches and work on our campaign together. If you need support developing a campaign plan, or have other queries, contact me in the first instance at: jmccrory@ucu.org.uk – I’m the primary point of contact for branches. In solidarity Joe McCrory UCU national organiser.

Research into Academic Freedom in Higher Education

Dear colleague,

UCU’s education committee is undertaking research into the current status of, and protection for, academic freedom in UK higher education, with a view to making a report to the UCU congress in 2017.

We are working with Professor Terence Karran (University of Lincoln) on this issue, including a survey of members’ personal experience regarding the protection of academic freedom.

Your views are crucial to the union’s ongoing work on improving the protection for academic freedom. So, please help us by filling in the short survey here.

Thank you.

Sally Hunt
UCU general secretary

End of Term Newsletter

Dear colleague

Every year I send out an email as we come closer to the Christmas holiday and every year I have to acknowledge the struggles that we have faced. It also seems that every year things seem to get a bit worse and this year is no different. We have faced numerous disputes, both local and national, threats to our ability to organise through new trade union laws, increased threats to our funding and general increases to workloads that make being a trade union rep on top even more difficult. On behalf of the Regional Office I would like to thank every one of you for the hard work that you have put in this year supporting our members, whether through casework or collective bargaining, standing on picket lines and juggling large workloads with a commitment to the trade union role. You are all awesome and you are very much appreciated.

I have to say that next year looks like it is going to be fun too and you can expect the regional office to be in touch over possible local claims on pay in FE, supplementary claims on gender pay and casualisation in HE, and recruitment everywhere. If we are going to tackle all of this then we need to grow our membership and develop our activists and the regional office will support you in all of this work.

On a positive note, these last few weeks have seen the start of a new black members’ network in our region and training for our retired members so that they can assist us with casework particularly in branches with little structure or organisation. Keep an eye out for future training too as we roll out a new course looking at supporting members over disability discrimination with a specific focus on hidden disabilities and mental health.

If you are working in either HE or FE you also might be interested in the presentation given at the Regional Committee by our Regional Secretary Pete Monaghan on the changes to apprenticeships and how they will impact on both sectors. It was eye opening for reps in both sectors, particularly as we see the development of degree apprenticeships in HE and changes to assessors roles in FE. We need to get organised on this early in order to make sure that we protect our members and if any branches would like Pete to come and speak on the matter then do please get in touch with him at PMonaghan@camre.ac.uk. Pete can also be contacted on any matters relating to the Regional Committee and if your branch doesn’t send a rep to those meetings then it might be worth your while talking to him about them to find out more.

For information, the UCU office will be closed over the holidays between 23 December and 3 January, reopening on the 4 January. As usual I will be on call over that period and if you need to get in touch for emergency support then text my mobile on 07989 439499. This number is only to be used over the holidays for emergencies. Once the office is open again then please use the eastern@ucu.org.uk address as usual if you want to get in touch with the regional office.

Please note that I will not be checking emails and if you need some urgent advice than texting me is the only way that you will be able to get hold of me. Fingers crossed that no-one gets too drunk at a Christmas Party and ends up needing urgent union representation, but it has happened before….

So, once again, thank you. Everyone at the Regional Office wishes you a Happy Christmas and a brilliant New Year and a sincere wish that you get a proper break and the ability to re-charge your batteries.

Best wishes

 

Lydia

 

UCU Responds to OFSTED Annual Report

1 December 2016 | last updated: 2 December 2016

Responding to the Ofsted annual report for further education and skills, published today, UCU said the report was right to question the effectiveness of the current area reviews taking place in post-16 education and the suitability of the GCSE resit policy for English and maths.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘Further education colleges continue to provide a great education to students across the country.

‘The report is right to question the scope and effectiveness of area reviews in improving local education for students. We know that some recommendations are already being rejected, which suggests the exercise has been a significant waste of time and resources in some areas. Lessons need to be learnt to ensure that these mistakes are not repeated in ongoing reviews.

‘We also share the report’s concerns about the GCSE resit policy for English and maths. Colleges cater for many of the students who struggle most in these subjects, and repeated resits can be extremely demotivating for students. The government should heed these concerns and consider alternatives this unhelpful policy.’