CONSULTATION ON 2021/2022 HIGHER EDUCATION PAY OFFER

A few days ago the Vice Chancellor sent an email to all staff to inform us that negotiations in the 2021/2022 pay round had concluded with UCEA – the employers’ organisation for Higher Education – making a final offer of 1.5% for the majority of staff (with more, on a sliding scale, for those lower on the pay scale).  The University intends to impose this offer in August.

UNISON’s position is that this offer falls far short of the pay claim that the joint trade unions submitted.    Last year (2020/2021) the employers imposed a pay freeze (UNISON is still in dispute about this) as a ‘reward’ for the exceptional hard work HE staff put in during the first year of the pandemic, which itself came after a decade of derisory pay awards.

UNISON is now asking members to say whether they accept or reject the 2021/2022 pay offer.

UNISON’s Higher Education Service Group Executive is recommending that members reject the 2021/2022 pay offer.   If you vote to reject the offer, you need to be prepared to take part in sustained strike action in order to improve the offer.

To emphasise: this is a consultation exercise, not an industrial action ballot.  The result of the consultation will be considered by the Service Group Executive.   If industrial action is to be taken, a formal postal ballot of members would then take place, with a 50% turnout required for a valid vote for action.

The 2021/2022 pay offer consultation will begin on Monday 24th May, closing on Friday 18 June.

All eligible members will receive an email with a link enabling you to vote in the consultation anonymously.   It will also be possible to vote online even if you don’t get an email (perhaps because you have not given UNISON permission to contact you in this way).   Any new members joining before 4th June will be sent a voting link by email.

Remember that you can update some of your personal details in the UNISON membership system here:  https://my.unison.org.uk/.

For more information see:  https://www.unison.org.uk/at-work/education-services/about/higher-education/fair-pay-for-he/

UNISON NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL ELECTIONS 2021:VOTE NOW!

From Tuesday 4th May, ballot papers began to appear through UNISON members’ letter boxes for the elections to the UNISON National Executive Council, the body which makes the decisions on how the Union is run at a national level.

These are very important elections and we would urge you to read the material that you will receive and to use your vote.

Note that you are entitled to vote in all the elections for seats listed on your ballot paper, regardless of seat type.

The ballot closes on the 27th May so you should aim to get your ballot paper in the post by the 24th May to ensure it arrives on time.

If you haven’t received your ballot paper by the 13th May, then you should contact the ballot helpline operated by UNISONdirect, on the following telephone number: 0800 0 857 857.

More information regarding the elections can be read here (https://www.unison.org.uk/about/our-organisation/lay-structure-democracy-and-elections/current-elections/national-executive-council-elections-2021/)

SHU UNISON BRANCH NOMINATIONS:

SHU Branch nominated the following candidates who have a track record of leadership and fighting for members. They stand for transforming UNISON by:

Creating real change to win for members.

  • Redirecting Union resources to branches, to better support you at work.
  • Coordinating serious national action on pay and to defend pensions.
  • Fighing employers’ ‘fire and re-hire’ tactics, worsening our terms & conditions
  • A greater focus on Covid-19, to better support members’ safety.
  • Fighting against the scourges of racism, and all forms of discrimination.
  • Prioritising UNISON’s role in fighting the climate emergency

 

Greta Holmes Female seat
Sarah Littlewood Female seat
Theresa Rollinson Reserved seat
Tony Wright Male seat
Sandy Nicoll Higher Education – general seat
Kath Owen Higher Education – female seat
Julia Mwaluke Black members’ seats – reserved seat
Nimisha Trivedi Black members’ seats – female seat
Paula Carlyle Disabled members’ seats – female seat
Sharron Nicoll Disabled members’ seats – general seat
Lilly Boulby Young members’ – female seat
Kiera Hilder Young members’ – general seat

 Please use your vote!

COULD YOU FILL A UNISON BRANCH OFFICER VACANCY? (you definitely could!)

At our AGM earlier this year, the following were elected to Branch Officer positions:

Dan J Bye – Branch Secretary

Tracey Holland – Branch Chair

Blodwen Grayhurst – Treasurer

Lucinda Wakefield – International Officer / Acting Health & Safety Officer

Anna Wiggins – Women’s Officer

Ana Yousaf – Equality Officer

But a number of Officer positions remain unfilled and are empty posts.  They are:

Vice Chair

Communication Officer

Membership Officer

Welfare Officer

Education Officer

Young Persons’ Officer

The more posts we can fill, the more the Branch can achieve, so we are keen to hear from members who are interested in taking up these opportunities.   They are a great way of developing your own skills and experience, as well as making a contribution to the union’s collective strength.   Each Officer role has a particular specialism, but Officers can also get involved in case work and negotiation more generally.

Remember, paid time off is allowed to carry out union duties, and training and support is available for the roles from UNISON and the Branch.

To find out more about the purpose of the roles, see:  https://www.unison.org.uk/about/our-organisation/activists/branch-roles/.

Between AGMs, the Branch Committee can co-opt any member who is eligible to most of the vacant posts. So if you are interested please get in touch with Dan Bye, Branch Secretary, or another Branch Officer, for a chat!

WOMEN’S ISSUES

Hi there, as women’s officer, I would like to take some time for each newsletter to focus on a subject regarding issues relating to women, either directly or indirectly related to our working lives.

The pandemic has been hard on us all, yet it has been especially difficult for those living and working within the home, surrounded by the threat of domestic abuse.

Support organisations have seen an escalation of users accessing their services. They are still there, and ready to help.

For those seeking it, there are several ways in which to gain support and help in less obvious ways than a phone call in a compromised location. 

 The Bright Sky app – https://www.hestia.org/brightsky – looks like a weather app and has info both for those experiencing domestic abuse, and people who might be concerned about someone else. It has a directory of services available nearby.

Please consider if the mobile phone is being monitored before downloading.

‘Silent Solution’.  If you are in danger, but unable to talk, or disclose you are talking to emergency services, you can dial 999 in the normal way, then press ‘55’ instead of talking. You will be transferred to the police, who will guide you through either yes and no answers or asking you to type your response.

Iphones have a SOS feature, where you can share your location with police. The article below gives instructions   – https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/emergency-iphone-sos-police-b1815887.html

Ask for Ani (Action Needed Immediately) is a government scheme, where support can be sought in a pharmacy by asking Ani. Participating pharmacies should have posters advertising the service.

Anna Wiggins

 

STUDENTS’ UNION – UPDATE

In the run up to Christmas 2020, the Students’ Union launched a consultation on proposals to restructure the organisation and cut staff numbers.  40% of Students’ Union staff were formally placed “at risk”.  The proposals could not have come at a worse time for our members, already feeling demoralised and facing an uncertain future in extremely tough times.

UNISON, with the assistance of UNISON regional staff, supported members to put forward alternative proposals, launched a petition and passed a vote of no confidence.   Newspaper coverage of the campaign was secured.  Following the work of members, Region, the Branch and SU stewards Demaine Boocock and (albeit briefly) Jemma Dalton, the consultation was extended and the implementation ended up being delayed until the end of April.  The redundancy offer, initially only the statutory minimum, was improved, pay protection was agreed and other concessions were made.  Some of our alternative suggestions were accepted by SU management, which helped protect jobs.

Although UNISON achieved a number of successes, lockdown made engaging with students much harder and it is disappointing that in the end the decision to close the Students Union bar and most other commercial activities was confirmed.  Five UNISON members were among those who already left have or will be leaving the SU.

UNISON has already met with SU members to discuss next steps.  We intend to hold SU management to account for the fallout from the restructure, and demand action to address the poor staff morale that was revealed by the belated release of the results of a staff survey conducted in 2019.  We are also drawing up a list of workplace issues we want to see addressed, and will be meeting with SU leadership to take this agenda forward.

CHRISTMAS GREETINGS FROM WCML

What we’ve been up to while our front door has had to be shut

We’ve hugely missed the usual buzz of library activity since we closed our doors on 18 March.  But the staff have worked throughout, and here’s a flavour of what we’ve been up to…

We were thrilled to get money from the Arts Council emergency fund pot for a podcast project, Begin the World Over Again.  Working with Salford outdoor arts organisation Walk the Plank we have commissioned six artists, each with a member of the Bones of Paine writing group, to make a podcast episode about significant aspects of the Library’s collection and the thinking behind them, exploring parallels with our contemporary situation and what the future might look like. We’ve learned a lot about podcasting, and about social media, along the way, and the results have been terrific, hope you agree – you can listen to the podcasts here, and browse more about the themes and the project in general here.

We have also been delighted to present 26 free live-streamed talks so far since lockdown, on a really wide range of topics.   Attendance has been higher than our ‘traditional’ annexe audiences, and of course with a wider geographical spread (plus good figures for later views on YouTube).  It’s also easier to invite long-distance speakers, such as Maria Bloshteyn  who tuned in from Toronto to talk about Russian poetry from the Great Patriotic War.  We have also received kind donations from people who have enjoyed the talks.   The talks will start up again in February 2021 and you can find out more by keeping an eye on www.wcml.org.uk/events  – or by signing up to our free weekly ebulletin here, if you don’t get it already.

Over 200 people watched the third annual Engels Memorial Lecture, which we co-hosted with Marx Memorial Library last month, and this is also available now to watch on YouTube here.  You can also relive on YouTube our online fundraiser Radical Sounds – many folk joined us from the comfort of their living rooms on August Bank Holiday Monday for a fantastic mixture of music and readings, curated by our very own Maxine Peake.

 

We have selected and digitised some interesting material from:

* The Pan-African Congress in Manchester in 1945. This was used not only on our own social media but also was blown up large (see picture, left) to feature in the windows of the old Chorlton-on-Medlock Town Hall, now an MMU building and where the Congress took place.

* The Communist Party, which was presented online as part of the CP centenary celebration on 1 August.

* The Manchester and Salford Film Society (the oldest film society in the UK, whose archive we hold) to mark its 90th anniversary in November (www.wcml.org.uk/90NotOut), and

* The pages of our quirky Engels in Manchester scrapbook to mark Engels’s 200th birthday (www.wcml.org.uk/EngelsScrapbook).

We have lent our Lancashire Women Against Pit Closures banner to the Museum of Wigan Life, along with two suffragette badges, for their protest exhibition which is due to run for a year. The banner looks terrific as it is hung so that both sides can be viewed.

So far, so virtual…  We were excited to be able to reopen the library to a maximum of two real life readers per day on 16 September, and until we had to close again on 4 November we were ‘full’ nearly every day.  A lot of effort was required to get just two people into the building, but all were very appreciative to be back. We are planning to re-reopen on Tuesday 5 January, again to two readers per day by prior appointment, so do get in touch if you’d like to book a place…

In the meantime take care, in solidarity, all the very best for the festive season and for 2021 from all at WCML

THREAT TO JOBS AS SHEFFIELD HALLAM UNIVERSITY STUDENTS’ UNION LAUNCHES CONSULTATION

Staff at Sheffield Hallam University’s Students’ Union are fearful for their jobs, following the start of formal consultation this week on proposals to restructure the organisation and slash staff numbers.   40% of Students’ Union staff have been formally placed “at risk”.

Management claim that the proposals are necessary to increase student engagement, prioritise representation, and decrease operating costs.   Staff in the Union’s commercial operations, helpdesk and marketing teams are hardest hit under proposals which would see an expansion in the use of placement students on zero-hours contracts.  But UNISON members at the Union point to years to underinvestment by Sheffield Hallam University, the impact of COVID-19 on commercial activities, and longstanding staff dissatisfaction with the leadership and direction of the Students Union.

The proposals could not come at a worse time for staff already feeling demoralised but working extremely hard for students during the COVID-19 pandemic.   UNISON opposes compulsory redundancies and is working with members on alternative proposals to defend jobs.

SAD NEWS

The Branch was saddened to learn of the tragic death from COVID-19 of one of our members who worked in the Facilities Management team.   On behalf everyone in UNISON, the Branch Committee sends our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.   Our thoughts are with you.

We understand that support has been provided to affected colleagues, but it may be helpful to remind everyone of the confidential helplines and other advice provided through the University’s Employee Assistance Scheme: https://sheffieldhallam.sharepoint.com/sites/3005/polproc/eap/SitePages/Home.aspx

GENERAL SECRETARY ELECTIONS

Last week you will all hopefully have received through the post a ballot paper for you to vote in OUR union’s General Secretary elections.

In a member-led union, UNISON encourages you to be heard and to have a say in who you think should be our next General Secretary.

SHU UNISON have nominated Paul Holmes for General Secretary because:

  • Members of the Branch know him through his regional work in South Yorkshire:
  • Paul has the best record of leadership and fighting for members.
  • Paul is the members’ candidate, from the shop floor.
  • Paul will take the job on his current wage of £32,000, declining the £138,000 available.
  • Paul will massively increase funding to branches so we can support you better.
  • Paul has a track-record of winning disputes and elections, other candidates do not.
  • Paul’s leadership will be inclusive, developing talents from across our whole union and involving retired members.
  • Paul is popular across UNISON and can win.

The Ballot will run from 28th October until 27th November 2020.

The ballot is postal-only. Make sure you vote!