Strike action announced on 21 and 22 September
Following our very successful strike day on the 17 August, the committee is now calling for more strike action on the 21 and 22 September. This will be during welcome week, when new and returning students are arriving at the University for the new academic year.
The committee is also finalising plans for action in the following week (the first week of the new term).
As with our strike day in August, we do not take this step lightly. In the past few weeks we’ve been pressing the University to make genuine concrete offers to settle the dispute – something they’ve as yet been unwilling to do. The blame for any disruption to services rests with them.
No concrete offers from University
So far, the University has only been willing to “clarify” matters and offer talks in future about other matters (without any commitments). For example:
- On working hours, they’ve said they are willing to add “clarification” to the website, but not to amend the actual wording in the terms and conditions. This is despite the fact that the terms and conditions document has not been discussed or negotiated with us, and we only had around 24 hours notice of it before it was sent to everyone as a final version.
- On out of hours pay, they’ve only committed to reviewing the arrangements later (with no guarantee that any of the issues we raised will be fixed)
- We are due to discuss a number of different matters, such as the PDR process, but there is no guarantee that they will approach these negotiations in a more reasonable way, particularly given their new tendency to try and force things through without agreement
And as a reminder, the University (contrary to their responses in the media) are continuing to refuse to approach ACAS to engage their assistance in settling the dispute, saying only that they think they might be “too busy” to get involved.
What would it take to settle the disptue?
From our side, the committee has reflected on the views expressed by members in our meetings and particularly in the motions passed on what would be enough for us to suspend action, before working on the remaining issues solely through negotiation. We think the following are the priorities that the University need to fix before we consider suggesting to you that action should be called off:
- End unfairness with weekend pay – their proposals for weekend pay treat all part-time staff worse, make occasional weekend working much less attractive, and exclude all of catering staff entirely. These are unacceptable features in a system that is meant to be fair for all
- Improve night pay to match ACAS minimum – the University’s definition of “night-time” is currently shorter than the ACAS / working time directive minimum. We think they should be doing better than this if they really wanted to be a trend setting employer. Night work has an impact on health and work-life balance, and it can often be harder to simply get to work after public transport stops running. They need a fairer definition of this to be fair to the members who have to work these hours.
- Negotiate the terms and conditions statement – the statement of terms and conditions specifically says that it should be discussed with the trade unions. The University breached this from the very start, by only giving us 24 hours notice of the new T&Cs and not asking us for any feedback on them.
- Increase the standard pay offer – there are many staff shortchanged by the SSPR offer and who are facing a real terms pay cut this year. With any pay spine reform it’s difficult to ensure everyone gains, but there is absolutely no reason for anyone to be left out of pocket this year given the University’s very healthy finances. An increase in the pay offer is a good way to ensure no-one is facing a real terms cut to their salary this year.
This is just our current view on what would be reasonable and achievable, based on all of the discussions with you in recent months. Any proposals we get from the University will always be decided on democratically by our members.
With less than two weeks now before further strike action, the ball is in the University’s court – will they let students and staff down by continuing to refuse to negotiate, or will they finally come back to the table with an open mind?