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Annual General Meeting 2021

This year’s AGM will be held online by Zoom meeting on Wednesday 26 May 2021 at 12:00. All of our local members should already have received an invite by email. If not, or if you require a reminder, please contact Juergen Munz at Juergen.Munz@hw.ac.uk.

BSL interpreting can be arranged through the on-campus interpreting service. Please contact Marion Fletcher at marion.fletcher@hw.ac.uk, giving as much notice as possible.


  1. Welcome
  2. Attendance and apologies
  3. Minutes of AGM 2020
  4. Report from the committee
  5. Treasurer’s report
  6. Appointment of auditor
  7. Local rule change
  8. Election of Officers and Representatives of the Committee
  9. USS dispute – update
  10. Pay dispute – update and branch position
  11. AOB

Join the UCU today, at https://www.ucu.org.uk/join

Solidarity whip round for EIS Fela

At a recent Branch meeting we voted to set up a solidarity fund to allow branch members to donate to central fund that will then make donations to other UCU branches and our sister unions when they are in dispute.

This is now active so if you can please consider donating to help support striking workers at https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/HWUCUWhipRound . All donations most welcome, however big or small, but please do not feel under any obligation if now is not a good time.

Funds collected up to £200 will be donated to EIS Fela, in the name of Heriot-Watt UCU, with any left over being rolled over to the next cause that comes up- there is no shortage just now as many UCU are, have recently been, or will soon be in dispute including Goldsmiths, Liverpool, Roehampton and many others.

About the EIS Fela dispute

The first fund to which we would like to donate to is EIS Fela. Our comrades in EIS Fela have been in a protracted dispute with their employers over plans to change from hiring lecturers / calling staff who lecture lecturers and changing to staff who do not get allocated time for preparation and marking.

Our near neighbours at EIS Fela Forth Valley College, from where we receive students into year 3 of some of our engineering programmes via Associate Student Scheme, have been in dispute since 20 November 2020.

Further information about the dispute can be found at https://www.eis.org.uk/FELA-News/FVCDispute

USS explained and why you cannot ignore your pension

The University and College Union (UCU) has exclusive employee representation rights for all members of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).

We would like to invite all of the USS members at Heriot-Watt University to an open online meeting about the future of the scheme.

Q. Why should I attend when I have already heard from Heriot-Watt University and can find information on the USS website?

A. Our USS pensions could be subject to substantial reductions in benefits. We believe that we cannot make an informed decision about the future of the USS pension scheme without hearing from the third key formal stakeholder in our pension scheme. You, the members.

The meeting will be held on Wednesday 12 May at 3pm via Zoom. An email with the link to the meeting has been sent to all HWU staff in the UK. Please check your inbox for an email from the HWU All-staff mailing list at 10.05 on 06/05/2021, with subject line: [All-staff] USS explained – why you can’t ignore your pension. If you have not received this you can contact Juergen.Munz@hw.ac.uk at the local branch office for login details.

At the meeting we will be hearing from the following speakers:

  • Vicky Blake, UCU President
  • Christine Haswell, UCU National Pensions Official
  • Sarah Joss, HWUCU Vice President (acting)
  • Kenneth Weir, HWUCU Pensions Officer (acting)

If you require BSL interpreting, please contact Marion Fletcher at the on-campus BSL interpreting service. Marion can be contacted at marion.fletcher@hw.ac.uk. Please give as much notice as possible.

You can ask questions on the day or if you wish to ask questions in advance and/or anonymously please forward them to Joss at s.joss@hw.ac.uk before the meeting.

We very much look forward to seeing as many of our Heriot-Watt staff and USS members at the meeting as possible.

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.

Further Information

Branch Members’ Meeting about the USS Pension Scheme

The next HWUCU Branch Members’ Meeting will be about the USS Pension Scheme and the current valuation. The meeting will be held online via Zoom on Wednesday 31 March from 12:00 to 13:00hrs and there will be a talk by Sam Marsh (UCU Pensions Negotiator).

We hope to see as many of you as possible. If you have not already received instructions on how to attend please contact the local branch office at ucu@hw.ac.uk.

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?

Have you voted yet? Watch this short video if you need more info on why you need to cast your vote asap.

Rally to defend jobs at Heriot-Watt

Please click  below to view the rally we held on Wednesday 7th October to defend jobs at Heriot-Watt

It features a really great line up of people who want to show solidarity with staff at Heriot-Watt, including Joanna Cherry, Iain Gray, Neil Findlay, Gary Clark of the CWU, UCUScot President Carlo Morelli, UCU President Vicky Blake, Roz Foyer of the STUC and of course our own James Richards.

School Meetings/Branch Surgeries

Over the next few weeks we are hoping to have a series of brief meetings with members in each of the Schools/Professional Services to explore any concerns and issues. Meeting is open to all members who work in individual schools/services and also any staff members who may be interested in joining the union.

  • How is the ‘Best endeavours’ message being enacted on the ground in your school/professional service
  • Portfolio modernisation and protecting jobs within your school
  • Members concerns, including returning to work, finances, H&S etc.
  • Introducing Branch Surgeries (with James Igoe our casework officer)


Date Time School/Service
1st July 2020 12:30 – 13:00 EPS
1st July 2020 13:15 – 13:45 SoTD
7th July 2020 12:30 – 13:00 MACS
7th July 2020 13:15 – 13:45 SoSS
8th July 2020 12:30 – 13:00 EGIS
8th July 2020 13:15 – 13:45 Professional Services
14th July 2020 12:30 – 13:00 Casualised Members


Branch surgeries will also be held later in the month, for which members will be able to make appointments by emailing James Igoe.

Date Time Branch Surgeries
20th July 2020 12:30 – 13:00 Surgery 1
20th July 2020 13:15 – 13:45 Surgery 2
21st July 2020 12:30 – 13:00 Surgery 3
21st July 2020 13:15 – 13:45 Surgery 4

All members will shortly receive an invite to the their school/service meeting. If you are a non-member and interested in joining the meeting, please contact your school rep for an invitation link.

HWUCU report on working under lockdown and employee-driven responses to such practices

HWUCU recently commissioned a short survey to capture experiences of working under lockdown (e.g. working hours, working conditions, workload, communications, well-being, voice, collegiality and equality) and employee views of how the University and HWUCU should respond to reflect employee interests at such a difficult and unprecedented times.

The report suggests about two-thirds of employees are on the whole satisfied with their early experiences of working under lockdown.

Collegiality is rated the highest by staff and communications from the University ranks the least.

However, approximately one-third of experiences are at least unsatisfactory, but when broken down further it is apparent how there is greater unsatisfactory experiences for women, disabled and casualised staff.

A wide-range of strategies for both the University and HWUCU are considered.

  • Key recommendations for University practice include more meaningful acknowledgement and steps taken to address staff concerns related to pressures to work as before lockdown, remote working and work-life balance.
  • Key recommendations for UCU, aside from working with the University on such matters, is to improve and be more inclusive with communications with members and adopting in such communications a broader acknowledgement of the problems currently faced by members.

The findings and recommendations are likely to be of value for other UK universities/UCU branches and some value for organisations who currently have large numbers of highly skilled employees working from home at short notice.

The full report can be accessed here.

14 Days of Strike Action

Seventy-four UK universities (including Heriot-Watt University) are taking part in 14 days of strike action in February and March 2020. The disputes centre on the sustainability of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and rising costs for members, and on universities’ failure to make significant improvements on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads.

  • Week one – Thursday 20 & Friday 21 February
  • Week two – Monday 24, Tuesday 25 & Wednesday 26 February
  • Week three – Monday 2, Tuesday 3, Wednesday 4 & Thursday 5 March
  • Week four – Monday 9, Tuesday 10, Wednesday 11, Thursday 12 & Friday 13 March

Why are Student Unions supporting us?

Student Unions believe firmly in showing solidarity with other unions which fight to make your education better. UCU also represents a large proportion of student members which includes Postgraduate Research students. It is them who, as future academics, stand to benefit significantly from improved working conditions should UCU be successful in this dispute. Student experience will always be better with satisfied staff who are able to teach and support students to their fullest ability. Currently, precarious conditions and a decline in pay exacerbated by gendered and racialised pay gaps do not allow this to happen. You can watch the short video by NUS and UCU here.

What can you do to help?

Let your lecturers know that you support them – it will mean a lot! Keep an eye out for our planned teach-outs at the Student Union and please join in wherever you can.The more that students show their support, the greater the chance that the strike will be successful in forcing universities back to re-enter negotiations and settle the dispute.

The University has published general information relating to the industrial action which can be accesed through Frequently Asked Questions.

Heriot-Watt UCU Solidarity Hardship fund

We are engaged in industrial action – a.k.a. on strike – over  national legal disputes relating to equality and the gender pay gap (27.7% at HWU), excessive workloads, decreasing pay, casualisation of the work force (short and zero hours contracts) and pensions. The outcome of this dispute will affect, (we hope benefit), all staff at Heriot-Watt University and throughout the HE Sector. Making HE a fairer place to work.We have the support of our students Union in taking strike action. Striking is a last resort when your employer will not listen to staff concerns leaving them with no other option than to withdraw their labour. Striking staff are not paid and many of our members will suffer financial hardship as a result of taking action.

We are asking you to donate to the HWUCU Strike Hardship Fund to help our striking branch members who are most in need.

Any donation – big or small – to support striking workers in struggle is greatly appreciated. For any queries please contact ucu@hw.ac.uk

What will the money be used for?
The Hardship Fund will be used to support striking members of Heriot-Watt UCU who require additional financial support (alongside the national UCU Fighting Fund).  Taking part in industrial action and forgoing pay is difficult for everyone, yet can be particularly financially challenging for those on casualised, precarious and fractional contracts (e.g. part-time, temporary contracts, post-graduate students who do teaching, marking and research).
How can you donate?
i) You can donate through our online fundraiser
ii) You can donate directly to our bank account
The Bank: Unity Trust Bank
Account name: UCU – Heriot-Watt University LA 023 Hardship Fund
Sort Code: 60-83-01
Account No. 20391168
iii) You can donate by cheque to our Branch office
Heriot-Watt UCU office
Heriot-Watt University
EH14 4AS

Thank you for your support!