Perhaps the most animating of topics for which UCU is fighting is the ever-increasing workload that academic colleagues are faced with, which many would argue is of greater concern than pay despite the 20% loss that we have suffered over the last 10 years.
A well-executed awareness campaign at Sheffield Hallam successfully persuaded students that staff workload had a direct and detrimental impact on their own academic outcomes. In particular, students were shocked to hear how little time was allocated for the marking of their work, in stark contrast to the hours that they had spent producing it.
Students were as a consequence hugely supportive of industrial action.
We may not like it, but in what is an increasingly marketized environment, such a lack of commitment to proper scrutiny inevitably leads to accusations of poor value for money.
UCU believes that workloads must properly reflect the importance both of supervision and assessment processes, and be flexible enough to recognise the needs of particular cohorts and indeed individual students to ensure the best possible outcomes.
Reducing them to production line processes completely misses the point!
Has the truth finally been revealed in a recent email to all staff highlighting the University’s laudable focus on mental health and its programme of events to raise awareness, when it refers to “lie managers”?
One might suspect that managers will on occasion attempt to “manage” the truth, but that’s a bit harsh!
Quite why UCU and UUK are at odds over pensions is difficult to comprehend. Both parties are agreed that they don’t want pension contributions to increase, and both parties signed up to the establishing of the Joint Expert Panel to fund an actuarial valuation methodology that both could accept. At the first hint of an outcome however, UUK has stepped away and rather than working with UCU to lobby the Trustees and the Pension Regulator chooses instead to remain silent.
There can be only one conclusion. Despite it not being a universally held view amongst its members, UUK’s desire is for the USS scheme to become unaffordable so that it can be scrapped and replaced with the very same defined contribution scheme that UCU so successfully prevented last time around.
UCU unsurprisingly takes a dim view of management attempts to break strike action by asking others to cover for striking colleagues. We believe that in doing so managers are unfairly wielding their authority and placing colleagues in an untenable position where they are asked to choose between undermining the lawful action of a work colleague and potentially being sanctioned for failing to respond to a management instruction.
We would remind colleagues that the sacrifices being made by UCU members are to protect the pensions and improve pay and workload for ALL of us, including paradoxically those that are asking you to jeopardise what are in many cases longstanding workplace friendships.
Support your colleagues – support fair play!
Those who’s December pay has been docked will no doubt reflect with some bitterness at how our ‘new improved administration’ embraced the first opportunity to differentiate itself from the previous hard line regime – by carrying on in exactly the same way!
We urge the VC to take every opportunity to stand up for fair play – deeds and not words alone are desperately needed now.
Pity those students who having been assured that their lecture would be taking place as scheduled traveled in to find that content did not form part of the module and was in fact a hastily arranged ‘filler’.
Yes this did happen during the latest round of industrial action and led to a number of students lodging formal objections about their time being wasted when it might have been better spent on completing coursework.
This desperate attempts to fake ‘business as usual’ turned out to be something of a faux pas!
During these fractious times those who checked their pay slip to see just how much money had been deducted from their Christmas pay packet will have no doubt been gratified to read the University’s message wishing them a Merry Christmas and PROSPEROUS New Year – and perhaps returned them through gritted teeth!