UCU comment on Labour Plans for Student Grants

UCU comment on Labour plans for student grants

17 August 2016 | last updated: 18 August 2016

The University and College Union (UCU) today welcomed the news that the Labour party would use an increase in corporation tax to fund student maintenance grantsOpens new window. The union first floated a similar idea when it proposed increasing corporation tax to just the G7 average to cover university tuition fees through its business education taxOpens new window.

UCU said today that it was pleased there was a gathering consensus that business should pay its fair share for the pool of graduates it enjoyed every year, and that the time had come for a proper debate about how all beneficiaries of higher education contributed to its cost.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘For too long university policy has been based on looking for new ways to squeeze more out of students, and big business has picked from a pool of talented graduates with little contribution. By bringing corporation tax in line with other leading countries, businesses can finally start to pay their way.’

FE Pay 2016-17 Branch Action

To Further Education Branch Secretaries and Chairs

Topic FE England 2016/17 Pay Round


All branches are asked to circulate this note to members

Ask members to check their membership details online

Support the #fairpayinFE campaign

Summary This briefing provides an update on progress of the National Joint Forum pay talks with the Association of Colleges and next steps. The full text of the 2016/17 claim can be found at www.ucu.org.uk/fepayengland.

Contact Andrew Harden, Head of Further Education (aharden@ucu.org.uk)

UCU’s Further Education Committee met on 8 July to consider a report on progress in the National Joint Forum talks for the 2016/17 FE England pay round and to consider next steps. A meeting of the NJF which was scheduled for 5 July 2016 has been postponed to 21 September 2016.

FEC will meet again on 7 October 2016 to consider the AoC’s final offer. In the meantime members can continue to support the campaign for better pay and better jobs by posting support for the claim on twitter with #fairpayinFE using the poster download found at www.ucu.org.uk/article/8209/Wall-of-support-for-FE.

Next steps – campaign for better pay and better jobs

Since 2009, staff working in colleges have had near to a 20% pay cut in real terms while at the same time redundancies and reorganisations have pushed workloads to breaking point. Lecturers in colleges are now working so many extra hours to get the job done that they are effectively working two days extra a week for free. It is little wonder that stress is now cited by the AoC as the single biggest cause of long term sickness absence in colleges.

Staff turnover in colleges has reached a new high at 21%. This means one in five UCUBAN/FE2 page 2

college staff are leaving their job each year. On top of this colleges are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit new staff particularly in English, Maths, engineering and construction with some unable to fill vacancies for more than a year.

It is now clear that something must be done to make colleges attractive places to work again. Without better pay and more secure better jobs, colleges will be unable to recruit and retain experienced and motivated staff leaving them unable to provide the quality educational provision their communities need and deserve.

Check the Rate for the Job

To check your pay against the national pay scales, other college’s and what yours should be if it had kept up with inflation go to UCU’s Rate for The Job site at www.ucu.org.uk/rateforthejob.

Get members to update their records

This year’s Further Education Sector Conference established policy that if the AoC fails to make a credible offer then a dispute will be declared and members in England will be balloted on industrial action. Therefore in case a credible offer is not made members should make sure their membership details are up to date online by cutting and pasting http://members.ucu.org.uk to check your workplace and contact details are correct. To register for first use, you will need your membership number and email address we hold for you. Requests for lost membership numbers can be made at https://members.ucu.org.uk/index.php/interfaces/ForgotMembership

Michael MacNeil

National Head of Bargaining and Negotiations




Build your Branch with UCU training

Build your branch with UCU Training

Today we’re pleased to feature a guest blog from UCU’s Training Officer Karen Brooks, on how training can help build your branch:


With more and more bargaining taking place at local level, it’s more important than ever that branches have plenty of reps with the training necessary to deal with their employers. Whether you are a new or more experienced UCU rep, our training programme will give you all the skills, information and support you need to get the most out of the role, both for your members, and yourself. UCU takes its activist training programme extremely seriously and every effort is made to ensure all our materials reflect the scope and depth of knowledge our reps require.

The UCU programme begins with introductory courses that are designed to equip newer reps with the necessary competence and confidence to deal with the challenges and opportunities that the role presents. The introductory courses cover the essentials of UCU’s structure, facility time, branch organising and campaigning along with practical advice and tips from experienced professionals. These courses are also open to more experienced reps who perhaps have not completed training in the past, or who would like to update their skills. We would normally recommend that reps update their skills every five years in order to keep abreast of current legislation and practice.

Further to the introductory courses UCU offers reps a continuation programme for those who have completed the initial reps courses. This training presents a chance for reps to take a more in-depth study of specific roles within the branch, such as health and safety, representing members, and negotiation.  These courses allow reps to gain a more comprehensive understanding of legislation surrounding each area, collective approaches to bargaining, representing individual members, and how branches build strength through effective negotiating.

UCU also run courses designed to add to a branches toolkit of knowledge and expertise. These courses deal with specific issues such as‘ ‘Media and Political lobbying’, tackling organisational stress’ ‘Pensions’ and ‘redundancy’.

As far as possible all UCU courses are delivered on a regional basis. This not only decreases the need for reps to travel long distances, but also allows for the development of local support networks. Often UCU regional staff attend local courses, giving you the opportunity to chat over branch issues with officials who understand your particular employer.

All UCU core courses (stage 1 and 2) are taught by qualified and very experienced TUC tutors who are able to offer practical solutions to workplace issues. In addition our courses are structured in a manner which promotes a collaborative approach and allow reps to share experiences.

All elected UCU reps are entitled via legislation to ‘reasonable’ time off for training. The UCU training department encourages all reps to assert this right; to this end you will find further information on the training pages of the UCU website

UCU is keen to attract activists from our equality strands (black, women, disabled and LGBT) and we welcome applicants who self-identify in one of these areas. Our wish is to increase participation from all groups in order that we reflect the diversity of our membership.

I hope the above information has given you a brief overview of our Activist Education Programme and I look forward to seeing you on a UCU training course in the future.

You can find out all about the UCU Reps Training programme and see what courses are running in your region, at our website.

Karen Brooks, UCU Training Officer

Courses in the London, South East & Eastern Region

Courses in the London, South East & Eastern region

UCU reps

Three day course for all new UCU reps and branch officers, with a second three day module for caseworkers.

Learning reps

Course for learning reps on legal rights, issues and policy, local agreements and extending the UCU organising agenda.

Health and safety reps

Course for all new and existing health and safety reps who have received no training

Trade unions and the environment

Course for UCU members and reps on climate change and ways to protect the environment.

Tackling organisational stress

Course on tackling organisational stress split over two one-day sessions aimed at UCU safety reps, branch officers and other reps.

Tackling bullying and harassment at work

Course aimed at UCU safety reps, workplace reps and branch officers.

Representing individual members – an introduction to casework

Course for reps who are new to, or who are considering, representing individual members.

Mental health is a trade union issue

One day course is designed for reps who want to develop and understanding of why mental health is a trade union issue.

Introduction to pensions

Two day course for existing pensions reps or other branch reps or officers offering support to members with pensions enquiries.

Equality reps

Course aimed at UCU equality officers and reps and other branch officers on using equality legislation.

Effective negotiating & bargaining

Course for reps and officers involved in branch negotiations to increase their understanding and confidence to better represent UCU members on collective issues

Dealing with the media

This one-day course is aimed at UCU branch officers and reps who want to learn more about dealing with the media. This course will involve both print and visual media.

Dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace

This course is aimed at branch reps who may be dealing with individual harassment/sexual harassment cases, negotiating around policies that protect members or wish to challenge harassment, in particular sexual harassment more broadly in the workplace.

Challenging and handling redundancy

Three-day course for all branch officers and reps who are likely to be involved in challenging redundancies and/or supporting members facing redundancy.

Certificate in employment law: online course

TUC Certificate in Employment Law is an online course designed for union representatives who have already completed the UCU rep 1 course or its TUC union equivalent.

Advanced reps

Course aimed at more experienced reps and branch officers who are actively involved in developing branch strategy.