1) Dates for the Diary
With the announcement of our ‘escalating wave of strikes over a four-week period’, the first strike dates for our diary are:
Thursday, 22nd February and Friday, 23rd February
A number of UCU members in Schools and Departments are organising their picket lines and planning events such as alternative lectures ‘teach outs’. UCU reps are meeting on the 5th and 7th of February to organise branch activities.
Tuesday, 20th February has been provisionally set aside for placard making and the distribution of materials and equipment.
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With 90.5% of members who voted stating they are prepared to take industrial action consisting of strike action, we’re looking forward to some impressive local picket lines and organising. With a very well attended General Meeting last week, and membership over 1,200, there is cause for much optimism in Bristol UCU.
2) Questions, Questions, Questions
UCU branch office is currently fielding a number of question from members.
Please note that UCU’s Strike FAQs should be live this week.
Signed off by UCU’s lawyers, these will cover most strike-related queries you have.
3) Pay deductions – 1/365 not 1/260
Following the recent landmark Supreme Court decision on strike pay deductions, pay will now be deducted at 1/365 per day, not 1/260 per day, that is, 1/7 of weekly pay.
4) Casualised Members
Details of UCU’s national strike fund to support members of causalised and part-time contracts will be announced this Friday.
5) Student Support – NUS Backs UCU
NUS and UCU have issued a joint statement calling on ‘local demonstrative solidarity action during the strikes in support of UCU members’.
Both staff and students ‘believe that fairly rewarded staff are the cornerstone of the university experience and that the proposal by Universities UK to substantially cut the pensions of members of the USS pension scheme will be hugely damaging if implemented’.
6) ‘University pension ‘crisis’ triggered by HE market madness’
University staff are right to be striking. According to a letter signed by UCU members, ‘staff are right to strike to defend their pensions. The government has caused this confected “crisis”, and it is the university employers who are seeking to take advantage of it to get staff pensions off their books’.
‘The next generation of university academics, already bearing huge student debts, now face the deepest cut in pensions. There is no justification for this pension attack. By any normal commercial measure, USS’s finances are strong. Assets have grown by an average of 12% a year for the last five years, and it has a record number of staff paying into the scheme. Actuaries report that USS could pay pensioners directly from its income for 40 years without touching its assets’
7) UCU’s Media Blitz!
UCU are currently working on a video and leaflet explaining the action to students, to be launched this week.
Moreover, ads have been booked in key newspapers.
A ‘public’ page has been created which allow parents and students to email their VC to complain; potential members to join; and civilians to find out more about the dispute. And a social media campaign is also forthcoming this week.
Your Newsflash Team