NUS National Demonstration Saturday 19 November

Will you take action for education on 19 November?

UCU and the National Union of Students (NUS) have called a national demonstration for Saturday 19 November in Westminster.  We will use the day to argue for greater investment in further and higher education, better treatment for staff and students and – of course – for the UK to remain open to people from around the world who come to our colleges and universities to work and study. We are running coaches from every corner of the UK so wherever you live I hope you can make it.

Let me know you are coming here. 

A Better Deal for Graduate Teaching Assistants at Essex University

A better deal for Graduate Teaching Assistants at Essex University


Back in summer 2015 the University set up a working group to look at the pay and other terms and conditions of graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) at the University.

This was driven by concern regarding a number of issues including:

  • Lack of consistency in how GTA were recruited and paid;
  • the use of multipliers that did not adequately reflect all hours worked – including inadequate provision for preparation;
  • lack of transparency;
  • Lack of involvement of the module lecturer, lack of feedback, lack of involvement in module design;
  • Lack of payment for training.


Many of these concerns had been raised by UCU who had sought to engage with the GTAs and raise their concerns with management. In fact, GTAs were quite unhappy in the autumn and came to UCU independently, which resulted in the branch approaching management and discovering the already-ongoing reform process.


As a result UCU were invited to work with the group to develop solutions to the issues raised. As a result of that work and the UCU input into it:


  • Jobs for GTAs were properly evaluated and graded with a resultant increase in the hourly rate of pay;
  • Multipliers will no longer be used – instead GTAs will be paid for all hours they work (agreed in advance);
  • Recruitment will follow normal University practices;
  • There will be clear information about the activities to be undertaken and the time they will take to be available when posts advertised;
  • Management and supervision will be improved;
  • Regular payment for work;
  • A new contract has been developed that includes clarity on pay and hours of work, access to USS, sick leave, annual leave  etc.



In general UCU are happy with the elements that we were consulted on but there do remain outstanding issues relating to academic freedom for students who teach.

Moreover, although the status of GLAs (lab assistants) and GDs (demonstrators) especially in the sciences was also reformed, this was not done in consultation with UCU and the branch have ongoing concerns about their situation.

The branch will continue to work with our members to ensure fairness for all.

How to Develop Your Branch

How to develop your branch

Lorraine Collins, E&HC Regional Branch Development Support, September 2016

Communication to members

  • Tell them what you are doing on their behalf: Be transparent about activities. It’s their branch.
  • Create an intranet area or website, Facebook account, twitter feed, blog. Find a member with an IT interest/skill to take that on as a task!
  • Use email discussion list/forum
  • Ask to have a union noticeboard and keep up to date with leaflet/joining info
  • Email all new joiners to introduce & explain where you can be reached and how you need greater input from members
  • Office drop-in hours (& signs on office door re how to contact you/join/keep visibility)
  • Newsletters. Paper copies can be left around/visibility/read by all.
  • Regular emails about various subjects-try to avoid the same type emails-else people will not read them. eg anti-racism week to prove the diversity of UCU’s work. Try to find something they are interested in/a hook (read HO updates for relevant ideas: 
  • Finding new reps
  • Get anyone who expresses any interest in any area/issue to research & inform you all i.e. turn them into a “rep” for that subject
  • Ask successful cases to help with branch/give something back
  • Encourage reps to be trained The Reps 1 training is really useful.
  • Result of gaining more reps: you can focus on the tasks you want to do and leave the rest to the others!Casework
  • Protocols –one contact point, available proforma (Hard copy or on branch website) to explain situation, confidentiality.
  • See national training courses or ask Regional Office re local casework training/mentoring (contact: Alex Eastwood)
  • Possibly use retired members as “advisors” for cases 
  • Recruitment
  • New staff induction process-do you get to speak to/contact new staff and introduce the concept of joining the union?
  • Stalls in lobby/communal area/cafe
  • Drop-in hours advertised/how to join info on your office door
  • Email members asking to pass onto colleagues with join information ( in a “sign up a buddy” -type way. Most people only join because someone they know actually asks them one-to-one
  • Newer members may be more engaged, and bring new ideas to the branch, so regular recruitment activity is always needed/worthwhile Structure of the branch
  • Branches should follow model branch rules which need to be adopted at a general meeting
  • Longer term when you have identified new reps, they can take on rep & officer roles as explained in the rules.
  • Ideally there should be a “committee” carrying out the branch work and they should meet regularly/monthly
  • Have 3 general/all member meetings a year.
  • Engaging current members
  • Hold meetings, be these formal, informal or social meetings. An open invitation to meet the first Friday of each month in the pub might be better place to engage members. Offer film showings, mini “working-group” discussions about key issues affecting staff (e.g. REF, equality issues)
  • Ask them: Find out what the members want their branch to focus on/need support with
  • Ask them to share the workload. Be honest to members about wanting help yet not let management think you’re struggling.
  • Be transparent about activities-develops a sense of ownership if members know what their branch is doing on their behalf.
  • Share wins, be positive about successful activities Work with other unions
  • Develop a relationship with any other onsite unions. Joint activities can work well: joint recruitment exercises, new staff induction talks

FE branch finances

  • There is no set procedure for keeping track of branch finances. Email Marion Strachan at head office, the key finance officer for the branches, to send you an up to date cash flow for the branch
  • Email Martin Sundram at head office, he’ll be able to send through a list of direct debit subs payers. Cross reference this with membership details. All members should be paying national subs
  • Branches can apply to head office for £2.46 per member per annum (2015/2016 amounts). This would be sent in 3 separate payments; initially 75p p/member, then £1 p/member, followed by final annual payment of 71p p/member. This has to be done via a F29/capitation form, and must be accompanied by details of budgeted requirements i.e. they won’t just pay you it without knowing what you intend to spend it on
  • Funds can only be paid into a Unity Trust bank account. Open one via Marion Strachan at head office. They’d need minimum two signatories (and up to 5 I believe)
  • Any branch can charge an additional local sub. Some FE branches do this; some charge 20p per member p/month. Others charge £s per month. See this link for who charges what. This would affect the funding from head office and would need to be agreed at a general meeting.


Membership database (UCU eServices)

  • It’s easy to use!
  • Run weekly “dynamic reports” on starters & leavers to keep track of your members. Can run off a list off all members to cut & paste email addresses via “standard branch reports” or track down details on one specific member via the “list branch members” search
  • Jo Sayers at head office is your membership officer for your branch. She’s very helpful-so DO ask her questions if you’re not sure what to do about something. Jo can give you access to change details/search on this database.
  • All your members’ details are logged with head office on the E-services database. If they’re not registered here…they are not proper, paying members. Cross reference with any locally held membership “list”. Lapsed members can resurrect their file/rejoin. Some members may need to be transferred from another branch.
  • Keep members’ details up to date. Encourage them to update their own details online via or it’s under “Members”, then “update your membership” menus on the website
  • New members can join at (this section of the website has lots of useful information about why someone should join plus subs) or by phone tel:0333 207 0719.

 Further information                                    

  • UCU national website is regularly updated
  • The Build a Union section is essential reading- full of ideas, tips and templates on how to do lots of the above tasks crucial to building a successful branch. Ensure all your committee/key reps read:
  • will also give you more ideas about what can be done, how other branches do things and links to resources you can access.

UCU comment on increase in number of people on zero hours contracts

UCU comment on increase in number of people on zero-hours contracts

UCU said today that there needed to be better information collected on the number of people on zero-hours contracts as new figures suggested the number employed on a zero-hours basis had increased by a fifth in the last year.

The Office for National Statistics reports that 2.9% (903,000) of the employed UK workforce say they work on a zero-hours basis in their main job – an increase of 21% from 2015 when 2.4% (747,000) said they did.

UCU said that the total number of people on zero-hours contracts was likely to be even higher as the survey only records people who recognise that they are on such a contract. The report recognises that some people may mistake a zero-hours contract for being “on call” and not be recorded.

The union added that people would be shocked at the prevalence of zero-hours and other forms of casual contracts in colleges and universities and urged employers to work with the union to gather meaningful data on the problem. UCU’s own findings suggested that around half (49%) of teaching staff in UK universities are employed on some form of insecure contract.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘The use of zero-hours and other types of casual contracts in education is a real problem and colleges and universities can no longer shirk their responsibility to staff. People would be shocked to learn that the types of contracts they associate with Sports Direct are being used to employ the people who teach their children.

‘We are calling on colleges and universities to work with us to produce proper data that details the true extent of the use of these types of contracts and work with us to eradicate them. Providing decent working conditions for staff can only help improve the experience for students and an institution’s reputation.’

The report also found that:

·         On average, someone on a zero-hours contract worked 25 hours a week

·         However, nearly a third (31%) wanted to work more hours, with most wanting them in their current job

·         Over half (55%) of people reporting working on a zero-hours contract are women

·         People who report being on a zero-hours contract are also more likely to be young; over a third (36%) of people on zero-hours contracts are aged 16 to 24.

TUFS Newsletter September 2016

TUFS Newsletter September 2016

1st September 2016
Trade Union Friends of Searchlight (TUFS) Newsletter sends its 29th monthly e-bulletin to all trade union affiliates.

View this email in your browser

Visit the Searchlight website
National, International news on far right activity, racist attacks and exclusive reports.
Let us publicise your unions events and anti-fascist and anti-racist initiatives

Visit Searchlight ARTS website

Anti-EDL, Britain First and Far Right Mobilisations

Saturday 24th September 2016 Newcastle Anti-EDL mobilisation
More info at Facebook page here

Contact your Trades Council or local Anti-Fascist group for further information.

Report from Edinburgh 17th August 2016 mobilisation against SDL
Over 800 anti-fascists from across Scotland joined a UAF march to oppose 80 members of the racist Scottish Defence League in Edinburgh on Saturday 17th August 2016. Read more here.

What to do if far right come to your town Guide from UAF here
Britain First Factsheet from UAF here
EDL Factsheet from UAF here

Stand Up To Racism National Conference
Confronting The Rise In Racism

Saturday 8th October 2016 10.30am-4.30pm
Friends Meeting House, Euston Rd, NW1 2BJ Info and book here

Cable Street 80th Anniversary
Sunday 9th October 2016 Assemble 12 noon
Altab Ali Park, Whitechapel Road, London E1 1DU
March to a rally St Georges Gardens, Cable Street, E1 0BL
Website here Facebook here
Trade Unions and Trades Councils :
Please publicise, coordinate transport and donate.
DONATIONS : Cable Street Committee: Acc No: 20266536; Sort Code: 60-83-01
If sending a cheque by post the envelope could be addressed to: Cable Street 80, c/o Ruskin House, 22 Coombe Road, Croydon CR0 1BD.

All monies gratefully received !

Burston Strike School
Saturday 4th September 2016 11am – 5pm
Church Green, Burston, near Diss, Norfolk
Confirmed speakers/musicians:

Mick Whelan General Secretary ASLEF, Liz Snape TUC President, Steve White and the Protest Family, John McDonnell MP Shadow Chancellor, Attila the Stockbroker, Red Flags, NASUWT Brass Band, Banner Theatre 1st May Band

Chairs : am Megan Dobney SERCTUC Regional Secretary pm Clive Lewis MP

More info here

IMPORTANT Marikana Miners Speaker Tour Dates
Trevor Ngwane, a leading member of the Marikana Support Campaign will be in the UK from 13-16 September 2016 and will be speaking as below :
Tuesday 13 September 2016 5.45-7.15pm TUC Fringe, Brighton.
Wednesday 14 September 2016 6-8pm House of Commons hosted by Kate Osamor MP, Shadow Minister of State for International Development.
Thursday 15 September 2016 6.30-8.30pm A public meeting at the London Regional Headquarters of Unite at 33-37 Moreland Street, London, EC1V 8BB

Trevor Ngwane is available and would be delighted outside those times to meet with you, or to come to any meetings of your committees to speak about Marikana and the independent inquiry.

Contact Bronwen Handyside on 07745 130 645
(Vice-Chair, Unite London and Eastern Region)

Saturday 17th September 2016 12.30pm Park Lane
Solidarity with Refugees MARCH TO PARLIAMENT
More info on Facebook page here

Organise ! SERTUC and OPZZ
Thursday 22nd September 2016 5pm-9pm
Martha’s Restaurant, 1-1B Wootton Rd, Gaywood, PE30 4EZ
An evening workshop for Polish workers
– understand your rights at work in the UK
– join a trade union
– participate in the union in your workplace
– understand labour and social European Union rights
– know where to go to get support
Refreshments provided More info here

Kids café saved at Calais Camp !
The Kids Cafe has been saved! English and French lessons are back up and running, phones are being charged and meals are being served.
If you wish to help further, please speak to your MPs, EMPs and local councils, encouraging them to take steps to accept refugee children from Calais, and to speed up the process of doing so. If you are able, please also support us through our donations page –

More info on helping the Calais Camp at Care 4 Calais here

Arts against Racism and Fascism

Tayo Aluko ‘ Call Mr Robeson;’
2016 dates at here The life of Paul Robeson, in song.
Help sponsor Tayo to take 2 shows to Edinburgh Fringe here

Banner Theatre Various dates here

Townsend productions
In association with the IBMT, Harrogate Theatre, The Place, Bedford, Unite the Union. Various dates here

TELL MAMA Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks
Mama is a secure and reliable service that allows people from across England to report any form of Anti-Muslim abuse. People can report any incident that you experience as a result of your Muslim faith or someone perceiving you to be Muslim. They perform a vital role in measuring the incidence of attacks especially important in a climate where many attacks are not being reported to the police.
You can submit a report here:

SIGN UP FOR Institute of Race Relations FREE news service
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Searchlight highly recommends that you sign up below, to keep fully informed.
Race and Class is also published quarterly by IRR and is available at

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Send for inclusion in October 2016 edition by Monday 26th September 2016