Open University Pilot Courses Offered to Members

Open University Pilot Courses Offered to Members

National Office have set dates to pilot some of The OU courses online as listed below:

  • Managing Challenging behaviour: 17th September 9:30am – 13:00pm with a break half way
  • Autism Awareness: 24th September 9:30am – 13:00pm with a break half way
  • Dementia Awareness: 24th September 9:30am – 13:00pm with a break half way

Please feel free to promote these courses with members.  To book onto these courses please use the link below:-

https://learning.unison.org.uk/2020/08/25/online-workshops-from-the-open-university/

Please note these courses are likely to fill up fast as they have been offered to all regions.

FREE ON-LINE COURSE

Northern College Micro Courses

These free online courses are open to anyone and are designed to introduce you to a range of subjects through an e-learning experience before committing to one of our longer traditional courses.

  • Employability skills – Whether you’re looking for your first job, have been out of work for a while or are even looking for a change in career, this bundle of resources will help you kick start your job search.
  • Digital literacy skills – Digital literacy skills are a must-have in a world which is increasingly becoming online and virtual. This course is an introduction to the skills required for those taking their initial steps in using ICT and the internet and is a starting point for further study.
  • Numeracy skills – Ideal for learners working at Entry Level 3, who might have some gaps in their maths knowledge and/or skills. This course will give you confidence to take a more formal and accredited course at this level.
  • Maths – Level 2 refresh – Good maths skills are an essential part of everyday life and this course will assist learners working at Level 2 who might have some gaps in their knowledge and/or skills. It has been split into 3 separate areas; fractions and percentage, number and BIDMAS, perimeter, area and volume.
  • English skills (part 1) – This micro course has been designed as the first part of a two part offer, and it will assist learners working at Entry Level 3 who might have some gaps in their knowledge and/or skills. Once completed you can continue-on to part 2.
  • English skills (part 2) – This micro course is the second of a two part offer to assist learners working at Entry Level 3 who might have some gaps in their knowledge and/or skills. This course should improve your skills and confidence to take a more formal and accredited course at this level.
  • English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) – Good language skills are important, and this micro course covers some of the essentials needed to develop English language skills at a basic level.  It presents you with an ideal opportunity to improve your skills and your confidence before studying in a more formal manner.
  • Covid-19 and safer workplaces – a guide for UNISON members – Covid-19 and the lockdown has left UNISON members feeling concerned, anxious, even stressed. This Micro Course has been designed to help plan what steps you will need to take, and how you can ensure you and your members are being as safe and risk aware as possible.

If you are interested in any of these courses, please visit Northern College website at:- https://www.northern.ac.uk/courses/micro-courses/

For more information about UNISON online courses for members and activists, please visit our website at:- https://yorks.unison.org.uk/online-training/

HE CONFERENCE REPORT

By Ana Yousaf

I attended the Higher Education Service Group Conference as a first time delegate  on Thursday 16th January 2020. This is when all University UNISON branches get together and discuss/agree any motions put forward by either our Service Group Executive Committee or branches such as ours around the UK. This will often decide the campaigns we want the union as a whole in Higher Education to pick up and a strategy around our pay claim within Higher Education, which we can take forward for 2020/21.

I travelled down to Milton Keynes (where the conference was held) with my colleague Lucinda Wakefield on the afternoon before. Having someone to travel down with was really appreciated as we had to catch another train from Birmingham New street to Milton Keynes which was a bit chaotic.  It was good to get down there on time too, as it meant I could ensure I was prepared and had my delegate registration and conference pack.  I also had put a photo onto my credential badge ready to wear at all times in the conference hall.

My experience of the conference was enjoyable and satisfying, especially being with another delegate from the branch who had attended before, so knew what to do and expect.  They were able to show me the ropes and I had company.  On the first evening we met several  delegates from different branches within Higher Education, some of whom were part of the Higher Education Service Group Committee.

We got to the conference hall early to ensure that we had seats in the right area assigned by our region (South Yorkshire).

From the day, one motion fell (this means it was not heard at conference) due to the branch who were due to speak on it not being in attendance. Otherwise all the motions put forward were passed and as a first time delegate I did speak on two of the motions. These were:

  • Motion 5 – ‘Positively Promoting Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace’
  • Motion 11 – ‘ Raising the profile of Black activists in Higher Education’

Speaking at the conference for the first time was quite  daunting as my heart was beating rapidly when I made the move to walk up to the rostrum to speak. However, I did it and on the flipside, it was a satisfying experience for me and made me feel part of the debate – I was proud to represent the branch in this way. I have been enthused  to do more within our branch here at Sheffield Hallam University – especially as I was passionate about the motions I had spoken to and supported.

The morning of the conference was quite slow with very few (if any speakers) from the floor and several motions being passed without debate. I was very proud that as delegates from the branch myself and Lucinda did speak on several of the motions throughout the day and gave our branches perspective throughout.

However, the afternoon came alive when we got to motion 9. – ‘Industrial action ballot tactics for 2020-21 pay campaign and beyond’. There were hardly any seats left on either the ‘for or ‘against’ seated areas as delegates queued up to be part of this lively debate.  The discussion was around if and what we can achieve from going for a disaggregate ballot this year without losing our collective bargaining (a tactic that UCU lecturers union seem to be taking).  When it came to the vote and the show of hands it was too tight to call so the bell was rung for a paper vote. This is when all doors are closed in the hall and each branch has to write their decision (for or against) using the number of members they have in their branch. This is then posted  into a ballot box to be counted whilst the conference then resumes its duties.  The result came back later in the afternoon passing the motion, with 8303 for and just over  6000 against.

We both did also manage to take the opportunity in the breaks and at lunch to do some networking, making new contacts nationwide.  I had lunch with a first time delegate and explained to them how they could speak – which they did in the afternoon session.

I would recommend anyone who attends a UNISON conference for the first time to watch the ‘UNISON new delegates film’ at the link here.

Once the motions and amendments have been finalised we will make them available for members.

UNISON Return to Learn & Women’s Lives Taster Workshops

Return to Learn Taster Workshop – Monday 12 August 2019

at Commerce House, Leeds

Cost to Branches: FREE

Women’s Lives Taster Workshop – Friday 16 August 2019

at Commerce House, Leeds

Cost to Branches: FREE

Both sessions run from 10am – 3pm with lunch

There is no charge to the branch for these Workshops.  The cost of the workshop will be paid by our National Officeand on this occasion the Region has agreed to cover any travel expenses.

 The course is designed for members who want to ease themselves back into learning.  We are offering members the opportunity to attend a one day taster workshop to find out more about the courses, boost your confidence and engage with exciting and fun activities

UNISON Disabled Members Conference

This year’s National Disabled Members Conference takes place in Brighton from 2-4 November. But now is the time to get your branch to agree to send you!

Last year’s conference heard from President Gordon McKay (pictured) and a host of UNISON disabled members from up and down the country. The 2019 conference bulletin has now been published and all the details can be found here.

To attend as a delegate you need to speak to your branch secretary as soon as you can. Delegates are often agreed at the branch AGM – contact your branch now so you don’t miss out. The deadline for your branch to register you as a delegate is 25 July.

Conference is a great place to find out what UNISON is doing about disability equality in the workplace and to make sure your voice is heard as we agree our priorities for the year ahead.  And of course you also get to meet lots of other disabled UNISON members and to enjoy the delights of Brighton!  If your branch wants to submit a motion the deadline is 12 July.

PSOM: Vote of No Confidence Passed Overwhelmingly

UNISON members at Sheffield Hallam back no-confidence motion

UNISON’s vote of no confidence in the implementation of the Professional Services Operating Model (Student & Academic Services and Faculty Central Services phase) was launched on 23rd November and concluded at noon on Wednesday 5th December.

Thank you to all our members who participated: each of you helped deliver a credibly big turnout and made our collective voice louder.  

The result:

In total, 240 members took part, with 95% agreeing with the no confidence motion.

As expected, the majority of members who voted identified as part of SAS/Faculty Services .  Again 95% of voters from this area agreed with the no confidence motion.

We believe that this result demonstrates the depth and strength of feeling among members (which we are sure will be shared by non-members too), that the changes are being rushed in for January without adequate preparation, training or communication.     

On Wednesday afternoon, UNISON’s Branch Committee considered the very clear mandate that this vote has given us, and agreed to request an urgent meeting with Richard Calvert, Chief Operating Officer, and senior management in order to raise members’ concerns in detail.   We expect members’ concerns to be listened to and acted upon to restore damaged morale.

We will keep members informed of progress. 

Dan J Bye, UNISON Branch Secretary

Voluntary Living Wage – a qualified welcome


The National Minimum Wage became law in 1998, taking effect the following year.  It introduced different minimum hourly rates according to age bands. In 2015, George Osborne announced that for over-25s, the minimum wage would be renamed the National Living Wage and increased significantly.  This was primarily a way of outflanking the Labour Party, which had proposed a lower rise in the minimum wage.   The change was introduced from 2016.

 Confusingly, a voluntary “living wage” has been in existence since 2011, arising from campaigning going back to the early 2000s.   The Living Wage Foundation sets the level of the voluntary – or as we prefer to call it, Real Living Wage based on the cost of living.  The aim is to provide a worker with the minimum pay rate required to provide their family with the essentials of life, which the statutory so-called National Living Wage does not do.    Employers signing up to the Voluntary Living Wage undertake to maintain the pay of their lowest paid staff at the independently set level, and are recognised for doing so.

 Here at Sheffield Hallam, UNISON first raised the Real Living Wage issue back in 2012.  We therefore welcomed the University’s decision to pay the Voluntary Living Wage to our lowest paid colleagues from August.  

 This takes the form of a Voluntary Living Wage Supplement, paid to staff on Grade 2 (we do not use Grade 1 here) and the first spinal point of Grade 3 whose hourly rate would otherwise fall below that rate.  There are over 100 people impacted by this move.

 The Voluntary Living Wage was adjusted to £9 per hour in November, and affected staff should see that reflected in their pay packets soon.  

 Our welcome for this move is a qualified one, however, because the University has decided not to become an accredited Voluntary Living Wage employer.  Also, the method chosen to pay the Real Living Wage – a supplement on top of basic pay – flattens out the pay levels for staff on Grade 2.  Nor does the supplement apply to contract staff and casual staff who are not counted as employees, although it does apply to placement students and apprentices.

 Nevertheless, the move is a genuinely progressive move that benefits a large number of workers, and we hope that it will be maintained in the years to come.