Vote about calling off marking boycott

Please vote before 12pm (noon) tomorrow on Friday 24 June on whether or not we should stand down the marking and assessment boycott in return for joint statements.

The voting question is: We propose to call off the assessment and marking boycott and resume any marking still required in return for the public joint statements on USS and Four Fights disputes and no pay deductions will be made.

We have been negotiating these local joint statements over several weeks. Whilst we would always hope for more, we think the statements represent a positive move forward and we are pleased to put them to members today to vote on.

Several branches who were in boycott have already negotiated joint statements and it is hoped that collectively these will move the national disputes over USS and Four Fights forward. Our proposed statement on pay conditions also includes some commitment by the university to local improvements, most notably on workload.

You should have received an email with copies of both statements and a link to the poll. If not please contact the branch office as a matter of utmost urgency.

Thank you to all members who have participated in the assessment and marking boycott and to those who took strike action. Your action has made these negotiations possible.

Member meeting to discuss local negotiations on USS and 4F

We will be holding a member meetings on Wednesday 22 June from 2.00-3.00pm in to discuss the latest developments in the disputes. All members have been sent Zoom login details ahead of these meetings. If you do not receive yours, or if you need a reminder, please contact Juergen at the local branch.

At the meeting will have an update on local negotiations to agree joint statements on the USS pension and the 4-Fights with HWU.

Please join us. This is your chance to feed back and indicate what you think about the direction in which we are headed. Should we stand down the assessment and marking boycott in return for the joint statements?

Of the 20 branches who went into the boycott a significant number have now managed to secure statements on USS dispute as well as local agreements which improve working conditions for those branches and help to shift the position nationally. The number of statements on USS now covers 43% of all USS members and continues to rise. We hope to add HWU to that total soon.

Thank you to all branch members who continue to participate in ASOS including the marking and assessment boycott. It is the accumulation of all your efforts to date since December which is starting to make a difference in the disputes.

We will running a members’ poll after the meeting. All members will be sent a link. Please check you inbox and vote on the proposals. It is important that as many members as possible cast their vote.

 

 

Solidarity with RMT members

The Committee of Heriot-Watt UCU branch recognises the essential work of all those work on the trains across the UK. We thank them for their exceptional work during the pandemic, and note with some dismay, these efforts have been met with below inflation pay, threats to jobs and threats to terms and conditions.

We stand in full solidarity with the members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers who are taking part in strike action and call up on the employers and Government Ministers to enter into meaningful negotiations with the trade union to preserve jobs, ensure decent pay and safe working conditions.

RMT National Dispute Fund

You can donate to the RMT hardship fund, which helps striking members who are taking part in the dispute, via PayPal, cheque, or credit card.

Significant donations received into local hardship fund

Donations have been pouring into our local branch Hardship Fund from individuals and other branches, including Edinburgh and Brunel with whom we are twinned as part of the UCU Grassroots Twinning Campaign. In all we have recently received donations totalling more than £3,500

The twinning campaign connects mandated branches with non-mandated branches in order to foster solidarity and help raise funds to provide financial support for our members who are taking part in Assessment and Marking Boycott.

This is really vital support which helps ensure that branches taking action are not disproportionately affected financially. It has been organised by activists across the branches in a show of solidarity.

The union’s strength is in its membership and the greater our number, the stronger we are. Membership is open to staff and students in the UK. Join UCU and have the strength of the union around you.

Thank you to all branch members who continue to participate in ASOS including the marking and assessment boycott. Together we will win.

Checking your strike deductions

If you have not already done so, please check your payslip for strike deductions. The total number of days deducted across all payslips since December should match the total number of days declared in ERP but there have been some issues with the same days being taken twice, either double the number of days being taken this month, or days that were already deducted last month being deducted again.

If you think there has been a mistake please contact payroll who will help rectify the issue. Please note that any amount returned reflects the post-tax deduction.

With the introduction of ERP, the abrupt cessation of the existing payslip service, and the switch the new provider, it has been a challenging time for workers in Payroll. They have been doing an excellent job of fixing the issues caused, so please be patient as they work to rectify the problems

The new payslip system can be accessed via https://heriotwatt.sharepoint.com/sites/hr/SitePages/Payslips.aspx (HWU login required).

You can find information about the calculation of deductions and how to claim strike pay on our Cost of Striking and Strike Pay page.

Help hold the USS directors accountable by supporting the High Court Appeal to save university pensions and save the planet

In the case brought by Neil Davies and Ewan McGaughey the High Court has ruled that beneficiaries of a pension scheme can sue directors for breach of duty, but it did not give permission to go to trial.

Neil, Ewan, and many other believe that the judge’s decision was was based on a wrong reading of the law, and the wrong understanding of the law’s purpose. So, they are appealing.

The latest case updates and new stretch target for funding for the appeal can be found at https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/save-pensions-and-planet/

The USS trustees and managers have not acted in your interests and they are not going to. They act in their own interests, inflating costs and personal reward while cutting your pension benefits.

We need to take action. Please donate what you can to help finance the appeal.

Update:

Late motion L5 was carried at HESC on Thursday 2 June. It calls for UCU to publicly support the case and provide funding from the £35 million it holds the bank.

The legal claims are that the USS directors breached their statutory duties under the Companies Act 2006 – the nonsense valuation, the discriminatory impact of cuts, wasting member’s money, and failing to divest fossil fuels.

The appeal is necessary because even though it was established in the High Court that beneficiaries can sue for breach of directors’ duty, permission to proceed to trial was not granted. This was based on case law that the judge felt bound by, dating back to 1843. The team are confident that the judge made basic legal errors in putting up procedural hurdles that make enforcement of the statutory directors’ duties impossible.

The current estimate of cost for the appeal is an additional £350k (including covering USS costs), about one single member’s pension cut. Since the appeal was announced USS directors have already shifted their position, admitting that benefits could be restored or contributions reduced. So this case, and keeping the pressure up, matters.

In the meantime, please continue to donate what you can to help finance the appeal.

 

HWUCU branch membership collectively nominated for the Celebrating our Values in Action Award

The members of Heriot-Watt UCU have been collectively nominated for the Celebrating our Values in Action Award at the upcoming Celebrating our People Awards.

We didn’t win this time, but there is always next year. Plenty more work to be done in the meantime as we continue the fight to protect our pensions, secure fair pay and employment conditions, manageable workloads, and a safe workplace.

The union’s strength is in its membership and the greater our number, the stronger we are.

Membership is open to staff and students in the UK.

Join UCU and have the strength of the union around you.


Dear Marion Winters

I am delighted to let you know that Heriot-Watt UCU Branch Members has been nominated for the above award as part of our inaugural Celebrating our People Awards.

Here is a short summary about the nomination;

The Heriot-Watt UCU Branch membership are the very embodiment of the HWU Collaborate value. A group of individuals who are working hard in partnership. Members have sacrificed pay [] to take part in industrial action with the purpose of ensuring fair pay and equal treatment, and we fight collectively to keep all employees safe in the face of increasing stress and deteriorating working conditions. Consultation and feedback from branch members helped to prevent compulsory redundancies in the first year of lockdown. Our reps and negotiators have worked hard with the senior leadership team to minimise the threat of covid on campus, and we continue to work with them to put in place suitable hybrid working arrangements post-covid. This is all achieved by members who collectively put themselves forward for the benefit for all.

A judging panel met in May and had the difficult task of shortlisting all the nominations received for this award. The team nomination unfortunately did not meet the shortlist. However, you should be very proud that you were nominated by your colleagues and what you have achieved.

In line with our value Celebrate – my sincerest congratulations! It is only through people like you that Heriot-Watt continues to be a thriving and successful Institution. As the lead name for this nomination, I would appreciate if you could share this with the others in the team.

You will receive a Certificate of thanks for your contribution to Heriot-Watt University, supporting delivery of Strategy 2025 and living our values.

I look forward to your continued support and contribution to the Heriot-Watt community.

With best wishes,

Professor Mark Biggs,
Vice-Principal and Provost and Executive Sponsor of the Celebrating our People Awards

 

Action Short of Strike including Assessment and Marking Boycott to commence from 23 May

UCU UK have called for Action Short of Strike (ASOS) including an Assessment and Marking Boycott (A+MB) to begin on Monday, 23 May 2022.

A lot of marking will already have been completed by now but there will still be plenty outstanding along with other assessment and marking-related activities such as moderation, boards, and the preparation work for these, both academic and administrative. There is movement in the disputes, and we can make this work if all who are eligible to participate do so. Collective action is the key.

The industrial action will be continuous and all members should undertake any ASOS that is applicable to them. This will not incur salary deduction. Examples of ASOS include:

  • Only working your contracted hours – normally 35 hours per week for a FTE
  • Not volunteering to do more
  • Not covering for absent colleagues
  • Not rescheduling classes and lectures cancelled due to strike action
  • Removing uploaded materials related to, and/or not sharing materials related to, lectures or classes that will be or have been cancelled as a result of strike action

We would also ask all members who can, to participate additionally in the A+MB.

Participating in the A+MB will be considered partial performance by the university and HR have indicated a deduction of 30% per day of participation will be made. This will be calculated as 30% of 1/365th per day of the salary. By way of example: A member at the top of grade 9 will lose £29 for each day they participate.

It is important to note that A+MB is not as straight forward as striking so we have put together some frequently asked questions about the practicalities of the Assessment and Marking Boycott.

If there are any further questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Annual General Meeting 2022

This year’s AGM will be held online by Zoom meeting on Wednesday 25 May 2022 at 12:00.

All of our local members should have received an invite by email together with a note of the agenda and the minutes of the 2021 AGM for information. If not, or if you require a reminder, please contact Juergen Munz at Juergen.Munz@hw.ac.uk.

Please note that BSL Interpreting will be provided.

Agenda

  1. Welcome
  2. Attendance and apologies
  3. Minutes of AGM 2021
  4. Report from the committee
  5. Treasurer’s report
  6. Appointment of auditor
  7. Election of Officers and Representatives of the Committee
  8. Disputes
  9. AOB

Join the UCU

We are a strong Branch with well-attended AGMs/EGMs and an active membership and Committee but we can always use more help. To find out more about the work of our local HWUCU branch please check out the rest of this website and our Twitter feed at @UCU_HWUBranch.

If you have a few spare moments and you would like to get more involved please get in touch with one of our school or service reps, or the Membership Officer. Contacts can be found at https://heriotwatt.web.ucu.org.uk/branchcommittee/

If you are not already a member here are 5 Reasons to Join UCU. It only takes 10 minutes and subscriptions start from just £2 per month, so why not join today?

Members meeting to discuss further action

Update: Zoom links have now been sent out for this meeting. If you have not received yours please contact the local branch office. Please note that this is a members meeting to discuss ASOS and the marking boycott, separate from the AGM which is to be held the following week.

UCU have confirmed that they will be calling for a marking and assessment boycott from 23 May and a further 10 days of strike action in those branches which have an ongoing mandate for industrial action. Heriot-Watt are one of 44 universities who will taking part in this latest escalation of the disputes over pay, conditions and USS pensions.

The union’s higher education committee will meet on Thursday 12 May to decide when strike action should take place. In the meantime we are working with the Principal to agree local statements on both disputes.

We will then hold a local branch members meeting on Wednesday 18 May from 12.30 to 1.30 to discuss further action.

Please come to this meeting. Instructions about about how to join will follow by email. BSL interpreting will be provided.