Benefit Gig 28th November

Great to see Bradford LA’s support for striking Unison and College UCU staff by organising a benefit gig.

Let’s make it a huge success!

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Facing the future – an academic writes…

We are told that a key influence on the current headlong rush for downsizing is the so called demographic dip and the consequential shrinkage in the market in which we operate.   Of course any dip is likely followed by a surge – something that we know is only a few years away.
Readers may be interested in the Research Professional article exploring the implications for institutions in the HE sector, and containing among other things the following observation:
    “Universities that reduce capacity and retreat into themselves may find it
harder to rebuild their reputations and could end up being categorised as
struggling operations. What they need to be doing instead is building up,
and talking up, their capacity and plans for the coming surge.”

This is a perspective the union can buy into. We encourage the author to push this view in person at our own Executive Board.

A Clash of Opinion

Recent votes of no confidence in Prof Cantor’s stewardship would in the political and business spheres ordinarily lead to his immediate resignation and exit stage left.

Instead, and despite lobbying to encourage him to do the honourable thing, we remain under the control of a diminished leader.

One wonders how staff feel about the continuing influence of an outgoing – and hence unconcerned – leader on their futures.

A safe pair of hands and someone with a reasonable expectation of a future at Bradford would be far more palatable for many.

Fear Factor

Some will be saddened by the news that UCU branches failed to meet the desired threshold for the recent pay ballot to be deemed legal.

There remain some positives to be taken from the vote however:

·         Of those that voted, those in favour of strike action outnumbered those against by almost 2 to 1.

·         Our participation rate compares favourably with most other institutions (only 27 institutions fared better), and this despite the “little local difficulty” that members are dealing with in Bradford.

Our Unison colleagues however had rather more success in their ballot of members on the local issue of job cuts and redundancies.   There is no doubt then that the local issues facing members loom large, and that there was an element of unfortunate timing over the balloting of members over pay.

Poor pay in the sector and pay inequality are clearly important, but perhaps unsurprisingly the spectre of job insecurity featured heavily in the minds of members when casting their vote.

As one enlightened caller remarked on Jeremy Vine’s phone-in programme yesterday (regarding the pay equality dispute in Scotland) – “they should be grateful to have a job!”.

A new era?

There is no doubt that the apparent new found confidence of Senate to stand against what they consider to be unjustified proposals from the VC is a direct result of UCU’s campaign against a perceived weakness in our governance mechanisms.

Our silent protests outside Senate and Council, coupled with our vote of no confidence will surely have influenced Senates refusal to endorse an ill thought out merger proposal.

Hopefully this signals the end of the ‘cosy chat’ culture that has pervaded our governance, and the start of a new era of robust challenge that ensures sufficient checks and balances are in place to curb the excesses of maverick leaders.

Pay Ballot Deadline

The pay ballot deadline is now fast approaching, with today being the very last day to send your postal ballot form in.

Please cast your vote. Failing to do so may mean that the branch misses the participation threshold of 50%, which in turn runs the risk of weakening branch influence at a critical time for colleagues.

You will have your own views on the pay ballot. Make sure that your view and the view of all of your colleagues is also heard by casting your vote today if you haven’t already done so.

In solidarity.