Bulletin 53

Summer Bulletin 52

Bulletin 43

Contract Negotiations

Negotiations have begun on management’s proposed revisions to the South Bank Agreement (SBA). UCU has made it clear that before considering any proposed changes we need to ensure that the existing agreement remains in force for all academic staff. Management have given us an undertaking that while discussions on proposed revisions to the South Bank Agreement are continuing, the existing agreement will be honoured and any breaches will be addressed. Please see the communication from the HR Director below.

 

"Dear Russell

 

Further to our meeting to discuss potential changes to the London South Bank Agreement (also known as ‘Part B’), I would like to formally confirm that the existing agreement remains in place during the discussions.

 

You and your colleagues mentioned that you believe that there have been breaches of the terms of the agreement and we would be keen to know the details.

 

Many thanks

 

Mandy"

 

UCU needs to know where the SBA is being breached across the university. If you think that your workload breaches the terms set out in the SBA please let us know immediately. This is crucial to the negotiations to ensure that working conditions are healthy, safe, transparent, fair and equitable across the university.

 

Resolution Passed at Branch Meeting of 9 December

The following resolution was unanimously passed at Wednesday’s branch meeting. It was presented to management at the JNCC on Thursday 10 December.

 


 


Bulletin 32

Bulletin 30

No Compulsory Redundancies! Stop Course Closures! Defend the Contract! Vote YES for Industrial Action!

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Bulletin 29

The “Academic staff need a real holiday” campaign


     •     Third Sits


Many academic staff are not too pleased about the third resit not least because there was no consultation with staff and unions and little or no consideration of practicalities including the issue of leave.  

 

UCU will be discussing and giving advice on third resits. Given our holiday period begins at the end of Admin week on July 17 and some of us will be landing in Greece on July 20 what should we do?

 

We will discuss the proposal that third sits should be course work that can be put on Moodle, allowing students to submit. When we get back from Greece for September 1 our Self-Managed Scholarly Activity (SMSA) starts and we may be able to interrupt our SMSA to mark the third resit.


     •     Leave Cards


At the JNCC we reminded management that because of the structure of the Academic Year we can only take our leave entitlement and SMSA during limited periods over Christmas, Easter and the summer break. This is why we produced the Standard Holiday Year which sets out when we can take our contractual entitlements.

 

It is long established custom and practice that we don’t do Leave Cards, mainly because when we work in the SHY it is an unnecessary and wasteful bureaucratic rigmarole. UCU has long rejected leave cards not only on theoretical grounds but practically because busy members have invariably lost them or couldn’t remember where they put them. They are an unreliable record.

 

Mandy Eddolls (Executive Director of Organisational Development and HR) pointed out that we won’t be using Leave Cards soon as it is an outdated paper system. Management are now proposing a new kind of academic year and then we might have to review the use of Leave Cards. Until then, the custom and practice of not filling in Leave Cards continues.


Getting ready to Ballot

 

Our Regional official has given us a standard timetable for balloting which we will now be putting dates on. 

• Declaration of trade dispute Authority of National Officers to Ballot (allow 1 week)

• Preparation of up-dated membership list, ballot enclosure and ballot paper

• Send employer notice of intention to ballot, membership matrix and copy of the ballot paper - 7 clear days’ notice of the opening of the ballot (1 week)

• Ballot opens (usually for 2 weeks)

• Inform employer and members of the ballot result as soon as reasonably practicable.

• Authority of National Officers to take action

• Give 7 clear days’ notice of the planned action to the employer.

• Action must take place within 28 days of the ballot result.


 Institutional bullying

 

Management have asked us to provide examples on institutional bullying. We have cited the cases of Jenny Husbands and Russell Caplan. The facts are not sufficiently known by members and this must be rectified. Jenny left LSBU having been treated very badly. Fortunately she has another job and is taking LSBU to an Industrial Tribunal. Russell is now facing compulsory redundancy which has only served to raise UCU suspicions. 

 

Abuses of power may be carried out by individual managers for example by imposing breaches of our contracts on us such as threatening to impose 18 hours STA a week or bringing in Grade 8 descriptors before they are agreed.

 

Abuses of power become “institutionalised” when the power structure responds by denial or cover up. In practice, for example, this means there is no justice to be found in the Grievance Procedure where managers act as defendants, and as the judge and jury too.

 

Stephen Hackett

 

UCU asked for news about Stephen Hackett and have been told he is on extended leave and management have no news about if or when he is coming back.

The Grade 8 Post criteria are being consulted upon and therefore are not for implementation until it has been agreed. Any attempt to implement this with the Appraisals is a breach of the Consultation Process which effectively renders this consultation meaningless and LSBU negotiating in bad faith - thus a potential dispute situation.

 

We therefore advise all Members not to indulge Managers in their attempt to implement the G8 Post Descriptors with Appraisals through the back door and inform UCU Officers immediately.

 

We need members to discuss this with each other.


 Leave

 

Despite the long standing established normal practice over Annual Leave, it seems that management is looking to impose new practices on us.   

 

It boils down to this:

a)          UCU supports the established normal practice that you should inform your manager of your leave intentions. If there is a problem, the manager can raise it for discussion with you for an agreement

 

b)           However HR wants every individual, to “ask permission” to take leave and you cannot do so until you have a Leave Card signed off.

 

It is established ‘custom and practice’ that UCU members do not fill in leave cards. We have recognised that if you want to take leave outside the parameters of the Standard Holiday Year (SHY) or LSBU wants you to attend (and it is agreed) during our holiday period you will need to record it (Email or leave card as optional).

 

SHY is in effect a Standard Contract Compliant Leave calendar designed by UCU for professional academic staff,  to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and time wasting, which keeps the employer informed of your intentions from the start of the holiday year in October.           

 

UCU points to two key factors.

 

     1     First we have a ‘professional academic contract’ which gives academics a degree of autonomy in managing their workloads. We are expected to work flexibly and professionally and not ask permission for any and everything we do.

 

     2     The structure of the Academic Year greatly restricts the time we can take Annual Leave and meet other contractual obligations such as SMSA. Hence the Standard Holiday Year sets out these obligations and provides a practical plan by which any lecturer can take all their leave entitlements.

 

UCU has produced a standard letter for members to use. It will be sent to you soon. The period you can take leave according the SHY is from Monday July 20 until Tuesday September 1 2015.      

 

Redundancies

 

UCU and Management have agreed an alternative to the proposed Course Closures in the School of Health and Social Care. The 45 day Redundancy notices are thus effectively withdrawn and UCU will be working with School management to ensure progress is made. This is a good result for LSBU, its students and staff. 

 

However we still have the problem with Bioscience courses so we are not out of the woods yet. Members will have concentrate attention on this.    

 

Grade Eight (G8)

 

The DRAFT Post Criteria for Grade 8 Senior Lecturer will be discussed on Thursday 16th July 2015 at a meeting with management. The management draft can be found on the LSBU UCU website (www.lsbucu.org,uk). This has to be read in conjunction with our contract the South Bank Agreement. 

 

Appraisals, G8 and Jumping the Gun

 

A circular from the Dean of Arts and Creative Industries invited stafffor a 1:1 pre-appraisal meeting towards the end of June. She says “I’d like you to bring an updated CV so we can begin to look at the process of mapping your activities against the new grading criteria, which are now out to consultation. The actual appraisals will be conducted in July, by one of the senior team”.

 

She finishes by saying “I’ll be using these meetings to help identify the high level criteria in each of your subject areas, which are only sketchily drawn in the current university-wide descriptors”. This looks like implementation before consultation or “jumping the gun”.

 

To reiterate, the Grade 8 Post criteria are being consulted upon and therefore are not for implementation until it has been agreed. Any attempt to implement this with the Appraisals is a breach of the Consultation Process which effectively renders this consultation meaningless and LSBU negotiating in bad faith - thus a potential dispute situation.

 

We therefore advise all Members not to indulge Managers in their attempt to implement the G8 Post Descriptors with Appraisals through the back door and inform UCU Officers immediately.

 

We need members to discuss this with each other and we need UCU Reps for this School. Contact us for further discussion

 

Take a Holiday. You deserve it. Bon voyage and see you in September

Bulletin 31

Dear members


Welcome back to the new academic year with many new challenges ahead. UCU will need to become better organised and we need many more members to act as representatives. UCU will be having a Co-ordinating Committee next week and calling a branch meeting soon.


Some immediate issues of concern to members include voluntary severance, transition to Associate Professor and category C, office room moves, grade 7 and 8 descriptors and the future of Bio-science.


There will be information on each of these matters coming out soon. 

Report on Bio-Sciences

LSBU withdrew the June 2015 proposal for Changes in Bioscience courses including the redundancy notices for 31 August. UCU members had shown this plan was not viable and we questioned the legality. UCU welcomed the decision to call a halt to the plan.

The Dean wrote to the affected staff saying that LSBU had considered the use of HPL hours to carry out the teaching of the staff to be made redundant. Employing staff on an HPL basis to teach over 200 students is not the proper use of redundancy. It is morally repugnant and indefensible from both a staff and student perspective. 

The Deans says LSBU is putting forward an alternative of phased redundancy of existing staff to cover the required teaching. As a result he says the 45 days consultation has been suspended until 1st September.

UCU does not accept this. The old proposal has been withdrawn and if we receive a new proposal the 45 days must start again. UCU has to be given an actual plan in writing so that the consultation process can begin with the new plan. Suffice to say there is no new plan.

This is very damaging to staff morale. How would you feel in these circumstances, getting ready for a new academic year with everything up in the air. 

 

No Consultation

Already the management are messing about on the continuing Bio-sciences courses and changing them without any consultation. The academic staff are being treated as the ‘enemy’ and kept in the dark. Any new plans are being formulated behind their backs.        

Because of the actions of the Management there now appears to be a serious collapse in student numbers. Normally we would expect at least 120 students. Now some estimates are around 40. If this is correct it is no accident but the result either of incompetence or a deliberate policy to undermine or destroy these courses. 

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Bulletin 33

Biosciences

The UCU branch meeting was given a report on the treatment of staff in Bio-sciences. After discussion the following motion was passed unanimously:  

“This branch condemns the scandalous mis-management of the restructuring of Bio-science courses at LSBU.  It reveals a cavalier attitude to a public good and the use of public resources. It raises serious questions about the accountability, transparency and integrity of the management team leading the restructuring, and suggests that restructuring has been used as a means to address earlier and continuing management shortcomings”.


Workloads

The LSBU contract has two interlocking parameters to ensure you have a workload which is sustainable and makes possible the maintenance of quality of provision.

1.       15 hours Scheduled Teaching Activities maximum per week  

STA is all face to face teaching contact with students.

2.       550 maximum per teaching year

Both limits have to operate. Hence 16 hours per week and 540 annual is out of order. 13 hours per week and 560 does not do it either. You need to check your weekly load. Some managers try to cheat the staff by ‘forgetting’ about the weekly maximum. UCU says overloading will damage your health and reduce your effectiveness.

Maximum limits

These limits are maximum. Nobody has to work to this level and good managers will ensure you work less than these maximum. Formally the contract calls the 15 hour weekly STA the ‘normal’ rather than ‘maximum’. But it has long been custom and practice at LSBU to ensure that nobody teaches up to the ‘normal’ level.

Some of this may change in the negotiations over the LSBU contract. This makes it doubly important that you do not let your manager push you over the edge and stick to the weekly maximum.          

Tariffs and allowance 

To ensure that tariffs for Academic Management and Planning (AMP) are fair and equal across the university these should be quoted as annual and weekly amounts. It depends on how many weeks we work from. Normally we are working off 30 weeks for two semesters. 3 hours per week can be translated into 90 hours per year.

  

Silver Book contractual rights

UCU is taking up the issue of Silver Book rights and Associate Professor. Colleagues moving from PL to Associate Professor have found a clause about removing Silver Book rights.

This is a bit sneaky. UCU did not agree to this and it was not raised with us. UCU advised members not to sign away this right. Our Regional Official is taking it up. There are a few colleagues who have these rights and it is damaging to the university’s reputation if staff see it as trying to pull a fast one.

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Bulletin 34

This bulletin is partly reporting issues from the last branch meeting. There will be an update from today’s JNCC meeting with more news to follow. 


Biosciences

UCU raised two issues:


               i)   Confusion over the consultation process on possible Bioscience redundancies. The original proposal has been changed under challenge from UCU. This was either withdrawn or amended. If the latter, UCU members don’t know or haven’t been told what is the new or revised plan we are supposed to be consulting on.

 

               ii)  The attempt to change, revalidate or rename the course portfolio has been a shambles in the view of UCU members. UCU members, as a course team, have been excluded. This is bad practice and inevitably damages staff and students alike.


At the JNCC it was agreed that when a revised proposal was received from management, the ‘clock’ of consultation, would start ticking again. It had stopped for the summer vacation and was supposed to start again on 1 September. Of course we couldn’t consult when we did not know what was now proposed.

UCU made a new clear and sensible proposal. The whole process should be shelved. The existing staff should be drawn into working on plans for the revised course with genuine consultation, engaging the staff and their undoubted knowledge and expertise. At the end of the academic year the management could revisit the issue of change proposals again if necessary.   

UCU believes the fundamental issue here was the mismanagement of the academic staff which this whole disgraceful affair has simply served to highlight. 

   

Cheap Grade 6

No agreement has been reached on this matter. Management have assured us that no Grade 6’s have been appointed.  UCU is objecting because of the danger that this will undermine our pay and conditions by bringing a new cheaper Grade with pay and conditions below the Lecturer grade. 

UCU has not ruled this out absolutely and is prepared to negotiate. It will depend on i) The parameters attached to it ii) Protections attached to it iii) Whether we can trust the management not to ignore in practice any agreement we make.


Motion on Grade 7-8

The UCU branch meeting on September 16 received a report of the negotiations over Grade 7-8 Descriptors and the South Bank contract. After some discussion and questions a resolution was passed unanimously which said:

“This branch notes the progress made in talks of Grade 7-8 but recognises they are bound up with the issue of workloads and the South Bank Contract. Consequently we will not agree to the Grade 7-8 until the negotiations on the contract have been completed and members can see the full set of requirements and entitlements.” 


Branch meeting

There will be a branch meeting on Thursday 8 October at 1pm. The branch will be electing a new chair and any other vacant posts as well as reporting on the major issues confronting members.

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Bulletin 35

Negotiating problem

Negotiation came to a halt at the JNCC. Management said they are at breaking point when UCU said members were not ready to endorse the Grade Descriptors 6-8. There was no agreement on Grade 6 and members were worried about the implications of Grade 7 and 8.

UCU believes this re-specification of grades had implications for our workloads and hence contracts. The management had put the South Bank Agreement on the table for negotiation. It was therefore perfectly reasonable to say we could not agree to the new Grade 7-8 descriptors until we had agreement on the South Bank Agreement.

The new grade descriptors have implications for how people will be expected to work, which is stressful enough, even without facing changes to our contracts. UCU believes it is time to improve the South Bank Agreement and not make it worse.  UCU has called on management to keep on negotiating.

  

Your Career matters

Management were upset UCU would not endorse the Grade 7-8 Descriptors. They said promotions depended on it. They also said they will write to all staff to explain the seriousness by which they viewed UCU negotiators not agreeing to their plan.

We do not know what they will say. But they may say UCU is blocking the promotion round and denying you the chance of promotion. This is not true. There have been promotions before these Grade 7 and 8 Descriptors were invented. There is nothing to stop Grade 8 going for Grade 9 which has a new descriptor and nothing to stop Lecturer (7) becoming an SL (8) in the same way they did last year.

  

AP Category C

The transfer to Associate Professor (AP) has posed some issues. UCU is not satisfied with how this has worked out in practice. The appeal process seems to be flawed because there is no proper feedback from the decision-making panel on which to base an appeal. UCU will be taking this up.

 

Silver Book contractual rights

UCU is pleased to announce that after raising this with management they have agreed to reinstate Silver Book contractual rights to any staff moving from PL to Associate Professor.


Institutional Bullying

UCU has reported on this issue before on the grievances by Russell Caplan and Jenny Husbands. Jenny Husbands is currently taking her case to an Employment Tribunal. We will be updating you on both matters.

 

Branch meeting

There will be a branch meeting on Thursday 8 October at 1pm. The branch will be electing a new chair and any other vacant posts as well as reporting on the major issues confronting members. 

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Bulletin 36

Branch meeting

There will be a branch meeting on Thursday 8 October at 1pm in room BR 232. The branch will be electing a new chair and any other vacant posts, as well as reporting on the major issues confronting members.


Outstanding Grievance – Russell Caplan, branch secretary

UCU has approached management seeking a solution to this unresolved grievance. You may remember that Russell was in dispute with the previous Dean of HSC over our contract. At a crucial meeting a suspicious letter turned up from an External Body (Portsmouth) making allegations against him ‘on behalf’ of unnamed students. This raises important issues for all staff. Material relating to unresolved cases is the property of the branch and we will continue to report the facts to members.


Equalities Officer

Ruth Van Dyke is UCU’s new Equality and Diversity Officer for the branch. [Black history month starts at LSBU on 7 October – details will be on UCU website soon.]

 

Overtime

Your contract Clause 1.27 says……. “Weekend working is voluntary and may only occur with the prior agreement of the staff member concerned, and will be treated as overtime”. This includes Teaching, Open Days, Interviews and Exhibitions etc.

Management are planning to change this so that your work can be Monday to Sunday. Under our existing contract members must not do this work without pay. If no payment is offered do not agree to do it.   


Discrimination issues 

Recently there was a report called “Investigation of Equality and Diversity in Relation to Employment at LSBU”. This identified a number of issues including case work using data between 2007 and August 2011.

The first relates to grievances including bullying. It concludes “In this five year period, 8 BME staff and 7 White staff took out a grievance.  However as White staff represent approximately 68% of all staff, it is clear that BME staff are much more likely to take out a grievance”.

A second point examines disciplinary procedures and says “In this five year period, 17 BME staff and 18 White staff were the subject of disciplinary hearings.  Again as approximately 68% of staff are White, this is evidence that BME staff are disproportionately subject to disciplinary proceedings compared to White staff”.

UCU raised this concern in the Jenny Husbands (BME lecturer in Health) case. She was treated badly by LSBU as we have previously reported. UCU is raising the general issue with management.


Biosciences

We have previously reported on the anger at the treatment of teaching staff in this area. LSBU’s redundancy plans have been a shambles and students disadvantaged in the so-called redesign of the modules. New documents have now come from management and we will report on this at the branch meeting.  

Bulletin 37

Open Days and Overtime

 

LSBU contract clause 1.27 on Overtime says:

“All teaching activity over 550 hours per year and 18 hours per week, or outside the University terms, is voluntary and will be counted as overtime. It will be paid for either:

 (a)  at the appropriate part-time hourly rate;  or

 (b)  by time off in lieu, whichever the lecturer prefers.

Weekend working is voluntary and may only occur with the prior agreement of the staff member concerned, and will be treated as overtime”.

 

Members should a) not do overtime because it takes work from HPLs   b) where there is an exceptional case you must not even consider it without pay being agreed in advance and in writing from your line manager. This applies to Open Days at the weekend.

 

An Open Day within the working (day or evening) will not get overtime pay if your total weekly STA and Allowances does not exceed the eighteen hours that week.

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Bulletin 38

On the 11 June at the JNCC it was agreed and confirmed by management that until any changes to the existing contract have been negotiated and agreed on: “the current contract should be applied and that the managers should not breach the existing contract. However, in response to UCU comments that managers were bullying staff under the current arrangements, management asked that evidence and cases were referred to them for investigation.” Below are two examples that contradict the above undertaking and pressurise staff.


Overtime


The first breach concerns the abolition of remuneration for overtime. We understand that management has now revoked this abolition and that overtime pay will be restored.


Members are instructed not to do overtime unless the contractual option of pay is available. This includes any kind of weekend work including Open Days.


Working Off Campus


The second breach of the South Bank Agreement concerns working off campus.


Staff are receiving communications from Deans and line managers informing them that they are required to inform their line managers if they are working off campus and to provide personal contact details. This is not the case and you are advised to follow your contract on the matter which remains the agreed position between UCU and management. The South Bank Agreement clearly states in clauses 1.22 and 1.26:


“Staff are only required to be present at the University for teaching and those aspects of the duties set out below which can only be undertaken effectively at the institution.”


“Outside clauses 1.24 and 1.25 the remainder of the Lecturer's working time will be spent on self- managed scholarly activity which will not necessarily require attendance at the University.”


The South Bank Agreement is a professional contract. Implicitly this rejects the micro-managerial, location monitoring of professional staff. Members must not cooperate in any management attempt to undermine our professionalism.


Members are also advised not to provide personal home and mobile phone numbers to be stored within their schools. Home telephone and mobile numbers are private and personal, and managers do not have an automatic right of access to these, let alone other members of staff. Those aspects that are personal and private to members of staff, but which may be required in case of emergency by their employer, necessarily reside within the secure systems of the Human Resources Department. The only conceivable reason for which a member of staff not working on the university campus would need to be contacted, is in a case of emergency, which given the nature of the work that is undertaken in an academic institution such as a university, should be quite rare. In such circumstances HR should be contacted in the first instance, to get the contact details of the particular member of staff.


UCU expects managers to respect staff privacy, and the right to work at home in accordance with the academic staff contract.


Motions


The following two resolutions were passed at the branch meeting on Thursday 8th October.


Biosciences


“This branch condemns the treatment of the academic staff in Biosciences as set out in the October 1st 2015 revised Proposals for Changes in Bioscience Courses. The issues raised by UCU about planning, finance and consultation with staff and students and the Quality Assurance issues have not been addressed.   We do not believe that the procedures undertaken would withstand the scrutiny of the Quality Standards agency, Subject Benchmarks and the University Academic Regulations, and therefore risk damaging LSBU’s academic reputation in the area of BioSciences.”


Grade Descriptors


“This branch instructs:

i) All members not to recognise the Grade 7 and 8 Descriptors, at least until the branch has agreed on any changes to the South Bank Agreement

ii) Reject the Grade 6 Descriptors as a serious threat to undermine the pay and conditions of all academic staff.”


In order to put a halt to the attack on our contract we have set out UCU’s position and advice to members on ‘Overtime’, ‘Working Off Campus’ and in the motion on ‘Grade Descriptors’. Should you feel bullied or pressured into breaching any of the provisions of your contract or agreeing to the terms of the job descriptors, you should immediately contact a UCU rep to support you.


Branch Meeting


There will be a branch meeting on Wednesday 21 October 2pm Room K505. The Agenda Issues are:


     •     Election of Branch Chair and other Officers

     •     The Biosciences situation

     •     Management's proposed change to our contracts


Please make every effort to attend this important meeting!

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Bulletin 39

Overtime Pay


The strength of feeling against the decision by management to cease overtime payments has now been acknowledged and you should have heard from your Deans by now that overtime payments have been reinstated. This is the message that went out from one of the Deans:


“Following the overwhelming feedback I have had from you and as a result of feedback from other Schools, the Executive Team have reconsidered this decision.


Anisa has the list of staff who attended the Open Day so please can you let her know if you would prefer to receive an overtime payment or time off in lieu.”


UCU’s instruction on overtime remains (See Bulletins 37 & 38 below) unless the contractual option of pay is available. Please let your rep know if you are still not being given the option of payment.


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Bulletin 40

Management Refuses to Negotiate on Grades 6, 7 & 8

Many members have recognised with growing unease that our pay, job security and terms and conditions are under the greatest threat since the attempt to introduce performance related pay (PRP) under the Earwicker regime's ill fated plan. This has crystallised over the plan to introduce a new grade 6 teaching role. This is a potential threat to the job security of all grade 7's and 8's and HPLs (sessional lecturers).

 

UCU attended negotiations on the proposed Grade 6 GTA position on Thursday 5 November. Because of the potential threat to Grade 7 & 8 posts that these GTA positions pose, both the UCU regional official and a national negotiating official participated in the talks. On the management side there was the HR Director Mandy Eddolls, Deputy Vice Chancellor Pat Bailey and the Dean of the School of Business, Mike Molan. There were also a number of HR Business Partners in attendance.

 

The talks ended abruptly with the Director of HR announcing that the university intended to now go ahead with the introduction of the Grade 6 GTA posts without further discussion and without seeking  agreement with UCU. She further indicated that there would also be no more discussion toward reaching an agreement on the new grade 7 & 8 job descriptors and that the university intended to press ahead with their implementation.

 

This development represents a potentially serious deterioration in industrial relations at LSBU.

 

The branch coordinating committee together with the UCU regional and national officials are now considering the union’s next steps and we will update members again soon.

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Bulletin 41

The Bioscience Stitch Up

The grievance of Bioscience members will be heard tomorrow morning. It revolves around a plan that had 6 members of Bioscience staff scheduled for redundancy. In the initial proposal they were to be rehired to perform the same duties as sessional HPLs at grade 7. Due to dubious legality this was replaced by phased redundancy arrangements to provide for the running out of existing courses. Although there is to be a "new" Bioscience course none of the bioscience staff have had any input into it and its details remain a mystery. Course design is around the residual retained staff.


The outcome has ramifications for every single member of staff. Together with other disappointing developments around the management's refusal to negotiate on the new grade descriptors and the introduction of the new GTA grade, UCU considers this grievance a watershed moment in the direction the university is embarked on and the way staff are treated. We are therefore attaching the full grievance submission for you to consider and take stock of its implications for you and your future at LSBU.


We consider this grievance a continuation of the process to make our members redundant without justifiable cause. We have no confidence that this hearing will deliver a fair outcome for the following reasons.

     1.     In spite of the exceptional circumstances under which a collective grievance has been raised against a proposed course closure and its attendant redundancies, the process has not been suspended pending the outcome of the grievance. Members are being expected to participate in a process the logical outcome of which is their own redundancy even while the grievance process is underway.

     2.     On raising the grievance UCU was asked if they had objections to the dean of the Business School hearing it. UCU objected on the grounds of an unfair and biased disciplinary hearing of Jenny Husbands presided over by this dean. This objection has been disregarded.

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Bulletin 42

Management Refuses to Hear the Bioscience Collective Grievance - UCU Response


Following  Bulletin 41 sent out on Wednesday 2 December concerning the Biosciences collective grievance, management refused to go ahead with the hearing. They took exception to the objection we raised about the dean of the School of Business and the fact that we communicated this to our members. In an email to the HR Director UCU protested the arbitrary decision to refuse to hear the grievance pointing out that such a decision is a breach of agreed procedures at LSBU and a violation of due process that denies staff the right to have their legitimate grievance heard. In a detailed response to management we set out our position:


1.     UCU considers it essential to our democratic processes and practices that we report all issues and views to members. It would be wrong to raise our concerns about the Biosciences collective grievance and not keep members fully informed. It is not simply about information but of enabling members to input their views and corrections in communicating our collective majority view, especially if they think the UCU Coordinating Committee has made an error of fact.


2.     As you know, UCU has complained before about bias in the outcomes of some grievance cases. This is not about any particular senior manager but what we call 'institutional bias' and/or institutional bullying. UCU does not have trust or confidence that staff will receive fair treatment.


3.     UCU and Bioscience academic staff are alleging that they have been targeted to be sacked under the cloak of a bogus 'reorganisation and redundancy' plan.


4.     In the redundancy consultation UCU proposed a fair, open and transparent way of resolving these matters which take account of financial issues, proper academic processes and real and proper consultation with all affected staff. Without such a process the collective grievance is the only channel we have to state our dissatisfaction and seek rectification.


5.     Management allocated Professor Molan to hear the collective grievance and asked if we had any objections. UCU responded by objecting to this arrangement. Given the sensitivity UCU members have about getting fair treatment it would have been sensible and pragmatic to have accepted our objection and found someone else to hear the grievance. But our objection was disregarded.  


6.     Therefore it was necessary for UCU to update our members on our concerns and reasoning.


7.     UCU cited the Jenny Husbands case in which serious issues were left unresolved by her resignation from the post in the School of Health and Social Care. The issues were not resolved by her departure.


8.     The fact that Jenny Husbands took her case to ACAS and an Employment Tribunal indicates her dissatisfaction with the outcome. Unnecessarily losing the services of a valued member of staff has not been forgotten by her colleagues. Neither can the issues of institutional bullying and the discriminatory treatment of a Black and Ethnic Minority (BME) member raised by UCU simply be swept under the carpet.


9.     UCU would ask you to let us know how LSBU resolved these matters through the ACAS and ET processes. Unresolved cases raise issues for all staff, because without official acknowledgement of the problem and a just solution, they could be repeated in the future.


10.     UCU believes that grievance procedures should be a place of finding resolutions and seeking solutions. In our experience they have been used to deny or excuse abuses and imply that they are resolved merely because they have been through a process.


11.     LSBU should be using grievances as an institutional learning curve to improve practices and processes for all our benefit. Instead they are being used as quasi-legal processes in which the management are the defender, the judge and the jury, with one eye on the courts and expensive solicitors.  


12.    UCU believes that injustices are not solved by the management practices of denial and obfuscation. The Jenny Husband case was not resolved satisfactorily and her treatment will remain a source of distrust and dissatisfaction and continue to impact on future issues such as the treatment of Bioscience academic staff.

     




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"This branch reaffirms the content of the open letter to the VC and calls on him to note our concerns and take appropriate action to prevent further deterioration of staff morale and ensure the industrial relations climate does not descend into an all out dispute. This includes:

  • Withdrawing the imposition of the Grade 6 GTA and the Grade 7 & 8 grade descriptors that threaten our pay and terms and conditions, and the resumption of negotiations with UCU.
  • The suspension of the unsound and destructive process of course closures in Biosciences designed to make staff redundant and reduce the quality of provision in that academic area.
  • Providing a commitment not to worsen our contract and working conditions as is proposed in the revisions to the South Bank Agreement."

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Bulletin 44

The grievance hearing of Bioscience members continues to be blocked by management on the dubious pretext of the objection we raised and conveyed to our members in Bulletin 41. We set out our position in Bulletin 42 in response to the HR Director. Management considers the Jenny Husband's case irrelevant to our concerns. We further set out our position below in response to the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Pat Bailey who continues to demand the retraction of UCU’s objection before the hearing can take place.


“We are all agreed that the collective grievance cannot take place until the New Year. Whilst this is outstanding, our members cannot be expected to consult or negotiate individually over their future employment. UCU remains ready to discuss any plans or proposals on their behalf. 


The problem UCU has is not about our confidence in one member of the senior management team. UCU members do not have trust or confidence in the whole process of disciplinary and grievance hearings because of our experiences. We have cited the Jenny Husbands case as a particularly important example. 


The management response that her case is not relevant because she is no longer an employee does not restore our confidence. This is not an acceptable answer. Her case has highlighted that Black and Minority Ethnic staff are more likely to face disciplinary and grievance cases at LSBU than non BME academic staff. A similar pattern in the NHS has led allegations of institutional discrimination. 


Jenny Husband’s case therefore raises serious issues relevant to all employees at LSBU. UCU believes such matters cannot be swept under the carpet. This is why we asked “how LSBU resolved these matters through the ACAS and Employment Tribunal processes”? The fact that we have not been given a satisfactory answer confirms our fears.


Bioscience staff have taken out a collective grievance because they believe they have been targeted as a group in a dubious plan hatched by their Dean to get rid of them under the pretext of redundancy. In straight language, they feel they are being “stitched up”. How can they be expected to trust a grievance process when they see how Jenny Husbands was treated?


The Jenny Husband’s case involving institutional bullying and alleged discriminatory treatment of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) staff is a warning to all of us not to expect fair treatment from a management which makes mistakes and refuses to admit them or rectify them.”

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Bulletin 45

Update to Biosciences Stitch Up

Management continues to block the hearing of the collective grievance raised by UCU members from Biosciences. Just before the Christmas break the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Pat Bailey emailed the Branch Secretary, Russell Caplan in response to UCU's communication that forms part of Bulletin 44. In his email he declines to engage in a discussion on the issues surrounding the Jenny Husband's case on grounds of confidentiality and the fact that she is no longer pursuing a grievance against the university. With regard to the Biosciences grievance he continues to demand UCU withdraw the contents of Bulletin 41 before there can be a hearing.

 

UCU has responded:

 

"Thank you for your email dated 21 December concerning the Biosciences collective grievance. Unfortunately we are not satisfied with your response. We objected to the proposal for Mike Molan chairing the panel. We cited our general concern about disciplinary and grievance cases at LSBU and specifically mentioned the Jenny Husband's disciplinary and grievance case. 

The Jenny Husband's case has become infamous amongst UCU members as a case of institutional bullying and discriminatory practice. It raises major concerns about the treatment of Black and Minority Ethnic staff. LSBU has refused to discuss this case on the grounds that a) Jenny is no longer an employee (she left LSBU after her appalling treatment) and b) it is confidential and the facts cannot be discussed.

We have reached an impasse over the Biosciences grievance case because LSBU management is demanding an apology to Mike Molan as a condition for this case to proceed.

In order to end the impasse UCU is calling for a new round of consultation and negotiation over the future of Biosciences courses and our four members. Implementation of the current plan should be suspended. We will put to one side the collective grievance until we see what can be achieved by further talks.

Meanwhile UCU will be consulting members, as part of a wider issue of the treatment of BME staff in universities, about ensuring all staff including Biosciences can get fair treatment in disciplinary and grievance cases and not simply a management 'stitch up' or cover up of bad practice."


UCU will continue to keep you updated.

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Bulletin 46

We said we would give you a fuller account of the Jenny Husband's case and its significance for staff at LSBU.


Institutional bullying and discriminatory practices at LSBU

1.    LSBU encourages academic staff to obtain a Phd. This is not, however, a contractual requirement and no member of staff can be charged with Gross Misconduct and sacked for not having a Phd.


2.    The same contractual issues arise with professional qualifications including registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). There is no explicit contractual requirement to be registered with NMC.


3.    There is one qualification to this. It is a requirement of the NMC for those teaching clinical skills to be registered. In this case it would be an implied contractual term and failure to maintain registration could damage LSBU. [Disciplinary action might be appropriate in such a case as long as it complied with the disciplinary procedure]      


4.    Jenny Husbands, a Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) member of staff, taught academic subjects in Health and Social Care. She did not teach clinical practice or teach in clinical settings. Like the Phd case, she did have NMC registration for professional advantage. This was not, however, a requirement of her job. It was neither an explicit nor implied term of her contract.   


5.    LSBU failed to keep proper, accurate, up to date records which identified those staff in Health and Social Care whose work required them to be NMC registered. If this failure becomes a source of management error then it is incompetence. Management incompetence is the real issue here, costly for LSBU, its staff and students.   


6.    Jenny’s case began when the previous Dean of Health and Social Care decided to have a ‘blitz’ on NMC registration. She discovered that Jenny’s registration (which she did not need to have) had lapsed. Jenny’s mother was terminally ill and subsequently passed away. But whilst caring for her, Jenny had not re-registered.   


7.    Whilst Jenny was on leave, the Dean decided to take disciplinary action against her. On return she was immediately suspended. This suspension lasted three months. Subsequently she was charged with gross misconduct following a long and incompetent investigation (required because LSBU had no proper records). Eventually she was found guilty of gross misconduct but given a final warning rather than sacked. Later she resigned without the university allowing her grievance to be heard. She took her case to ACAS and an Employment Tribunal. 


8.    There are a number of issues which this case highlights:

a)    Incompetent management failing to keep accurate records about NMC registration

b)   Incompetent management failing to understand the distinction between teaching academic subjects and teaching clinical practice in an academic setting.

c)    The bypassing of Jenny’s line manager by the Dean who personally directed the case against Jenny not as a management issue but as a disciplinary case.

d)   In pursuit of disciplinary action, the Dean used her personal contacts at the Nursing and Midwifery Council to support her action. 

e)    Following her suspension, Jenny’s teaching was offered to a member of academic staff who was not NMC registered (further evidence of incompetent management)

f)     Failure to adopt good management practice in discussing the issue with Jenny before resort to disciplinary action.  

g)    Failure to follow LSBU procedure for dealing with an allegation of misconduct.

h)   The prolonged and unnecessary suspension of Jenny for three months, damaging to Jenny and her students whose teaching was disrupted.

i)     The failure of the university to recognise its errors in this case and failure to apologise to Jenny for the bad practices and unnecessary additional stress placed on her. 

j)     Cover up of this scandal by LSBU management.


Institutional bullying against Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) staff

The misuse of the disciplinary procedure is one of the ‘weapons’ of institutional bullying, as is the misuse of reorganisation and redundancy to get rid of targeted staff. In a culture of institutional bullying, the disciplinary procedure is not concerned with natural justice but maintaining management authority and covering up mistakes and injustices.

BME staff at LSBU are more likely than non-BME staff to face disciplinary action or take out a grievance complaint. The treatment of Jenny is an example of this bias. She received exceptional treatment. Racial discrimination is hard to prove not least because it is necessarily covert. This means we have to take such cases more seriously not less.

UCU is concerned that where the practices of institutional bullying are applied to BME staff, it is difficult to disentangle discriminatory treatment from the abuse of power. UCU has criticised LSBU for institutional bullying. The university is not unique in this. Studies have identified institutional bullying across Higher Education and the Health Service. Jenny’s case is a clear example of this.

Institutional bullying thrives in a culture of denial and cover up. The refusal of LSBU to address this case shows how deeply rooted the problem is. It is time for UCU to take action.


Bulletin 47



Update on Biosciences

  • UCU objected to the proposed redundancy facing four members in Biosciences.
  • UCU is supporting these members taking out a collective grievance. They are alleging that they have been targeted in a bogus redundancy process aimed at getting rid of them.
  • Management invited these members to attend a contemplation of redundancy meeting. UCU advised them not to attend until the collective grievance was resolved.
  • Management appointed the Dean of the Business School to chair the grievance hearing and asked UCU if we had any objections. UCU said that we did have objections.
  • Management said that unless we apologise to the Dean and withdraw the contents of Bulletin 41 where we explained our objection to members, the grievance would not go ahead.
  • In response to management’s demands for an apology so that the grievance could proceed UCU has offered to set aside the collective grievance and meet urgently with management for consultation and negotiations to try and resolve the problems caused by the threat of these redundancies.

Bulletin 48

Statement on demands from LSBU management


In bulletin 41 circulated to members on 2 December 2015 UCU said “On raising the grievance UCU was asked if they had objections to the dean of the Business School hearing it. UCU objected on the grounds of an unfair and biased disciplinary hearing of Jenny Husbands presided over by this dean”. Subsequently management demanded an apology.

a)  “Unfair disciplinary hearing ..... of Jenny Husbands”

Jenny, a Black and Minority Ethnic member of staff, was suspended by LSBU for three months, and then found guilty of gross misconduct because she was not registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council.  She did not consider herself to be a nurse because she did not work in the health service. She did not practise as a nurse. She did not teach nursing practice. She did not teach in practice settings. Jenny worked as an academic. She taught research methods, health policy and health promotion. Her decision to maintain NMC registration was a personal matter. It was not an explicit term or requirement of her contract with LSBU.

There is no requirement by the NMC for health academics to be NMC registered. It was accepted by UCU that NMC professional standards, as regulated by the NMC, were required for those teaching nursing practice or teaching in practice settings. UCU recognised the implications of this as applied to Jenny Husbands. There was no requirement in NMC standards for Jenny Husbands to be registered or maintain registration.

If LSBU decided to redeploy her from her customary work profile into teaching clinical practice in clinical settings they would need to consult with her in advance in her appraisal and work plans. If a change of work plans was agreed then it would be reasonable to expect and require Jenny to become registered. This would be correct management in a hypothetical future. This was not the actual situation that had been and was facing Jenny or the university.

Disciplinary action was taken against Jenny with respect of her existing academic work for which there was no requirement under NMC standards to be NMC registered. This was confirmed when the Dean of Health and Social Care asked Russell Caplan, who taught the same academic subjects to carry out Jenny’s teaching when she was suspended. Russell Caplan was not NMC registered and did not need to be registered to carry out this work.

LSBU acted unfairly in suspending her from teaching for an extended period of three months. LSBU acted unfairly in finding her guilty of gross misconduct. LSBU acted unfairly by threatening to terminate Jenny’s employment. LSBU acted unfairly by damaging her professional standing by wrongly finding her guilty of gross misconduct. This was unfair because it was contrary to natural justice and without regard to the full facts.

b) “Biased disciplinary hearing of Jenny Husbands”

The disciplinary hearing chaired by Professor Bev Jullien and the appeal chaired by Professor Molan failed to establish the fact that there was no contractual requirement for Jenny to be registered with the NMC in a similar way as there is no contractual requirement for academic staff to have a PhD. Adherence to the University’s disciplinary procedure should have uncovered this error and could surely have done so had the procedures been followed correctly at the beginning.

The two disciplinary hearings failed to act in line with the facts because they were biased. The bias was shown by their conclusions which supported the decision of the previous Dean of Health and Social Care who planned to take disciplinary action against Jenny whilst she was on leave as shown in her communications with the NMC.

c) “Presided over by this dean”.

 Professor Molan presided over the disciplinary appeal hearing. At the start he opened the case by saying "I read your file and you could have been dismissed” implying that she was lucky to have kept her job. Jenny complained that this casual remark was indicative of bias towards her. Professor Molan had no involvement, as far as we know, in the original hearing. So it is important to clarify that we did not intend to suggest or imply that he was solely or even primarily responsible for this miscarriage of justice. The unfair and biased treatment of Jenny was a collective effort by the management that included Professor Molan.

Apology to Professor Molan

UCU is not going to apologize for the statement in bulletin 41. The real victim of this case was Jenny Husbands who directly suffered severe stress, reputational damage and left LSBU because she could not trust a university whose management behave in this way.  Senior management remain unconcerned about the shameful treatment of Jenny Husbands. They are concerned for Professor Molan’s reputation only. Senior management demand we apologize to Professor Molan whilst refusing to address the issues UCU has raised about institutional bullying and alleged discrimination against Black and Minority Ethnic members of staff which this case highlights.

Nationally UCU has taken a stand against institutional bullying and discrimination against BME staff in disciplinary and grievance cases. Locally we have raised the same issues. Our concerns have arisen again because of the treatment of Bioscience staff and their collective grievance. The Jenny Husbands case illustrates these issues. LSBU management do not want to discuss this case and have demanded an apology from UCU for reminding our members of the miscarriage of justice in this case. They have refused to recognise or discuss Jenny’s case on the grounds that she is no longer an employee.

LSBU is a public university. UCU has a responsibility in representing academic staff and making sure management are accountable for their actions. Openness and accountability is the best guarantee that staff and students will get fair treatment. The Jenny Husbands case has ended. She has left LSBU. There is no outstanding grievance case. There is no outstanding legal case. It is because Jenny has left that LSBU can look at these issues squarely, calmly and honestly without complications. We now have the best possible circumstances to confront the difficult issues of institutional bullying and discriminatory treatment which can do so much damage in a university environment.

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Bulletin 49

Biosciences and Institutional Bullying

  • Four members of UCU are facing the threat of redundancy as a result of an illegitimate plan to get rid of them. The management did not provide proper costing of the existing courses, did not follow the university’s academic procedures and did not engage in meaningful consultations with staff.
  • UCU alleged the management’s proposals were incompetent but believe this was a result of the fact that School management thought they could simply get rid of academic staff unfairly in the guise of “redundancy”.
  • UCU members have taken out a collective grievance alleging unfair treatment. Management asked if we had any objections to the chair of the Grievance Hearing, Professor Mike Molan, appointed to this case.
  • UCU said we did, and cited the Jenny Husbands case. UCU believed the treatment of Jenny Husbands was an example of institutional bullying and discriminatory practices. LSBU has refused to discuss this case. UCU believes LSBU is engaged in a cover up of their shameful treatment of Jenny Husbands.
  • LSBU management have refused to proceed with the collective grievance.
  • UCU has said we are not going to withdraw our allegations of institutional bullying and discriminatory practices which the Jenny Husbands case illustrates. However we are ready to sit down with management and negotiate a settlement for our members in Biosciences. With a satisfactory negotiated settlement UCU members would be prepared to abandon the collective grievance in an effort to restore good relations.

Bulletin 50

UCU Encourages You To Do The Staff Engagement Survey

You will be aware that LSBU has started a new staff satisfaction survey. The recent experience at the University of East London (UEL) provides interesting parallels.


Three years ago the UEL Vice Chancellor initiated a wave of restructuring that continues today. Colleagues at UEL believe that this is consistent with a widespread (some say American) HR technique, which seeks to impose continual restructuring as a means to create uncertainty among staff and thereby pressurise them to constantly intensify their work for fear that they will be caught in the next wave. 


Whether this is accurate or not, the results of a recent staff satisfaction survey, announced last month, demonstrate profound alienation amongst those at the cutting-edge of education delivery. 86% registered their opposition to restructuring,  and there is talk at UEL that this is a resignation matter for at least some of the leadership! At LSBU staff across all grades (from very near the top to bottom) now speak openly about the chaos that has accompanied restructuring.


UCU encourages all members to complete the satisfaction survey. It is in nobody's interest to submit an inaccurate survey and we urge you to complete it accurately.  We are convinced that this will demonstrate a similar level of alienation to that at UEL and believe that this will confirm that UCU was right to question many aspects of the current and previous management regimes. These include the multi-million pound contract with IBM, which has produced not a single improvement to the LSBU ICT and data systems as used by our administrative colleagues as well as by ourselves.


UCU believes that had the management started by addressing long-standing ICT and system concerns (without spending something approaching £20 million with IBM), rather than imposing a blueprint worked out under Martin Earwicker, it might have succeeded in carrying staff with it towards restructuring and justified its claims that LSBU would improve under the current VC’s stewardship.

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Easter Bulletin 51

Holiday Time

With Easter upon us it is a timely reminder of your leave and SMSA entitlements and the most appropriate periods to take them. To this end UCU publishes the annual SHY (Standard Holiday Year) that we circulate to all members and which we are circulating again now.


Contract Negotiations

Part of the negotiations over the South Bank Agreement and the new Grade 7 and 8 descriptors is to do with protecting predictable periods where staff can take much needed holiday leave without feeling pressured or guilty over their work.


Biosciences Situation

There remains no resolution to the Biosciences debacle, with management refusing to hear the collective grievance against what UCU considers to be a deliberate attempt to get rid of four of our members. UCU has offered to set aside the collective grievance against this stitch up in favour of further talks with management to reach an acceptable settlement.


Have a good Easter break!

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Bulletin 54

Stress Survey

With the deadline for the Stress Survey fast approaching UCU would like to urge all members who have not yet done the survey to do so. If you are not too stressed out already from overwork, we would also encourage you to undertake the UCU Workload Survey that can be accessed via this link: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/37NPSN7


Contract Issues

It has come to the attention of UCU that management in certain Schools are playing fast and loose with our contract while negotiations are underway, in spite of the reassurance we were given by the Executive Director of HR : “I would like to formally confirm that the existing agreement remains in place during the discussions.”

For example in the Business School we know that some staff are being expected:

          to teach 18 hours a week as the norm. Paragraph 1.17 of the South Bank Agreement is quite clear that: Scheduled teaching activities will normally be up to 15 hours per week. . .”

          to teach 4 hour blocks uninterrupted without a break. Paragraph 1.17 of the South Bank Agreement is quite clear that: “. . .scheduled teaching activities will not normally exceed 3 hours within a 4-hour block with a minimum of 1 hour between sessions.”

          to work weekends to make up a shortfall in weekly workload allocation. Paragraph 1.27 of the South Bank Agreement is quite clear: “Weekend working is voluntary and may only occur with the prior agreement of the staff member concerned, and will be treated as overtime.”

 

UCU advises you to refuse to undertake Scheduled Teaching Activity duties beyond the 15 hours indicated in the contract. Only exceptionally should you agree to work more than 15 hours but not more than 18 hours.

UCU advises you to refuse to teach in blocks other that the 3 hours stipulated in the contract.

UCU advises you to refuse to work Weekends unless you really wish to and only on condition that it will be treated as overtime.

 

It is important that members refuse to breach their contract and stick to its current terms. This includes not agreeing to the terms of the New Academic Framework that have not been agreed by UCU. We attach the South Bank Agreement to assist you in this regard.


Appraisal

UCU is also aware that some members are being told, in spite of reasonable concerns they have about their appraiser, that they have no say in the matter. At the last JNCC before the Summer break we were reassured that this was not the case and that if a member of staff had reasonable grounds for requesting an alternative appraiser then that should be considered.

Members are advised not to agree to an appraiser they are not happy with and to request an alternative one. If this is refused you should contact a UCU rep immediately.


A sign of things to come?

The Personal Assistant to the Dean of the School of the Built Environment and Architecture, sent out the following email to academic staff:

 

Dear All,

 

Charles has asked if all those staff who didn’t attend the School Congress this afternoon and who were not teaching today could please come to see him in person for a few minutes.

Could those who WERE teaching today please send Charles an email to say what and where they were teaching).

This message does not apply to new staff who may not have received the invitation.

Many thanks and kind regards,”

 

Is this merely a case of cack-handed management or a portent of what is planned for all of us? If the Dean wishes to know who teaches on a particular day he is expected to have appropriate records to provide him with such data. It is not the role of individual members of staff to apprise him of when and where they are teaching and UCU advises members not to respond. The email sent by this particular Dean amounts to dictatorial location monitoring which insults our members' professionalism. 

If staff are not attending the ‘School Congress’ perhaps the Dean needs to ask himself why his staff are so disengaged from such events, instead of treating his staff in such an inappropriate headmasterly manner. Good leadership commands followship, rather than demanding compliance and management by diktat!


AGM and Branch Meeting Wednesday 4 October BR349 1pm

Please make every effort to attend. We will be discussing the above matters as well as the next phase of UCU's national industrial action over pay, the gender pay gap and increasing casualisation.

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Contract Negotiations

Management has resumed negotiations with UCU over the South Bank Agreement. We are currently in discussions over a number of changes proposed by management. We will shortly circulate these with our response, together with our own proposed changes. Nothing will be agreed until any of this has been considered among members at a branch meeting on resumption of the new academic year.


Appraisal

At a JNCC convened just before the Summer break, UCU met with management where matters regarding the online appraisal process were clarified. We are now satisfied that there are no changes to the appraisal process and rescind the previous advice in the email version of Bulletin 52 to only use last year’s appraisal forms. You must use the online system for this year’s appraisal as it is now officially agreed.

Based on previous guidance from HR, UCU advice is that 3 objectives is usually sufficient for a full-time SL. You may wish to add more. But you should not feel pressured to do so.

UCU also advises members not to fill in the section on LSBU Values which is optional, because we have not agreed them. Engaging with these in something like an appraisal could undermine your contractual rights.


Change in Holiday Year

The designated holiday year is contractual and like appraisal changes need to be agreed on. UCU have received a number of concerns from members about the changes management wants to make, and we hope to clarify matters and seek agreement on these. Until such agreement is reached UCU advises members to stick with the existing leave year as set out in the Standard Holiday Year (SHY). 


Taking Leave

Despite the long standing established normal practice over Annual Leave, it seems that management is looking to impose new practices on us.

It boils down to this:

a)          UCU supports the established normal practice that you should inform your manager of your leave intentions. If there is a problem, the manager can raise it for discussion with you for an agreement

 

b)           However HR wants every individual, to “ask permission” to take leave and you cannot do so until you have a Leave Card signed off.

It is established ‘custom and practice’ that UCU members do not fill in leave cards. We have recognised that if you want to take leave outside the parameters of the Standard Holiday Year (SHY) or LSBU wants you to attend (and it is agreed) during our holiday period you will need to record it (Email or leave card as optional). We recognize that currently this is probably the situation in HSC.

SHY is in effect a Standard Contract Compliant Leave calendar designed by UCU for professional academic staff,  to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and time wasting, which keeps the employer informed of your intentions from the start of the holiday year in October.

UCU points to two key factors.

1.     First we have a ‘professional academic contract’ which gives academics a degree of autonomy in managing their workloads. We are expected to work flexibly and professionally and not ask permission for any and everything we do.

 

2.     The structure of the Academic Year greatly restricts the time we can take Annual Leave and meet other contractual obligations such as SMSA. Hence the Standard Holiday Year sets out these obligations and provides a practical plan by which any lecturer can take all their leave entitlements.

UCU has produced a standard letter for members to use that can be found under the 'Important Documents' link. The period you can take leave according to the SHY is from Monday 18 July until Tuesday 30 August. 


Marking Resubmissions

 Resubmissions are scheduled to be made during the holiday period. Marking should not begin before Tuesday 30 August and from this date we suggest a ten day turn around given that there are not expected to be large numbers involved. We would suggest marks could be submitted by Friday 11 September at the latest (exceptionally less than the normal 20 day turn around). 

 

Bon Voyage

See you back in the Autumn

Welcome back for the new academic year with new challenges. As you may remember, UCU is engaged in negotiations with LSBU who is seeking to change the terms of your contract. We have been discussing a) The new proposed Academic Framework for Grade 7 and 8  b) A new London South Bank Agreement (your contract).

At present neither of these is agreed so your current contract remains in operation. This means that you need to ensure you are allocated no more than 15 hours Scheduled Teaching Activities a week. If you have additional responsibilities for Academic Management and Planning such as Course Director or Module Leader etc then you must be given a weekly allowance which will reduce your teaching time.  

UCU has reached a provisional agreement over the proposed Academic Framework (Grade 7 and 8) but we have made clear that until we have completed talks over the new contract we will not operate the Academic Framework.

UCU’s previous instructions that members should not recognise, discuss or operate the new framework are therefore confirmed and re-emphasised.

Once both sets of negotiations are complete, members will be able to see both parts and assure themselves that both parts are complementary and not contradictory. The branch will be able to assess all these practicalities before implementation.


Negotiations on the new contract 

We are aware that Junior Doctors have been in an increasingly bitter dispute over the attempt by NHS employers to impose a new contract on them. UCU is working to make sure we don’t end up in a similar position. At the end of last term on 6 July UCU received a letter from the Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Bailey setting out management aims. UCU submitted a draft on 29 July and we have received Professor Bailey’s reply.

It is important that all members acquaint themselves with what LSBU is seeking to achieve. So over the next week we will be providing information (letters and documents) to bring you up to speed. We can assure you that this is your contract which impacts directly on your work and nothing will be imposed or agreed by UCU without your democratic approval.

To assist UCU negotiators we will be sending out the workload survey and aim to obtain the biggest picture possible of current workloads.

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Bulletin 69 - Lecture Capture Advice; Negative Publicity; Pay Claim

Lecture Capture – UCU Advice

UCU is aware that the university is seeking volunteers to be trained for what is being called ‘Lecture Capture’. It is clear that the university is making plans to implement a practice that has far reaching implications for the process of learning and teaching. You would think these plans to implement something as far reaching as this would warrant a period of consultation and negotiation with UCU in order to reach agreement on how Lecture Capture will be used.  But we know nothing of this practice of Lecture Capture at LSBU. It has neither been raised nor discussed with UCU.

The name of the software ‘Panopto’ that makes the recording of lectures possible, shamelessly betrays its purpose. Taken from the idea of the Panopticon enunciated by the philosopher and theorist Jeremy Bentham, its purpose is one of increasing control over a designated population group through enhanced surveillance. An electronic Panopticon such as Panopto is a challenge and threat to the pedagogical experience.

You are strongly advised not to agree to this intrusive and unwelcome practice at this point in time.

There would have to be carefully agreed provisions between UCU and management that prevent such a practice from being misused to micro manage/ bully staff and intrude on the autonomy and integrity of the pedagogical process. In institutions where Lecture Capture is currently being used, protocols for its application and use have been carefully negotiated with UCU, and it is voluntary.

There are some rogue institutions that are trying to implement the practice by stealth without academic staff even knowing that their teaching is being recorded. We do not intend adding the good name of LSBU to this list of rogue universities. Our message to management is a blanket refusal to cooperate with their plans to implement Lecture Capture until we are fully satisfied that the practice will not be misused and abused.

LSBU in the News – For all the Wrong Reasons

Lecturers are fed up with being the big losers in the higher education market

https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2018/sep/13/lecturers-are-fed-up-of-being-the-big-losers-in-the-higher-education-market

With an overwhelming majority supporting both strike action and action short of a strike in the event of staff being made compulsorily redundant, we await the final tally of redundancies. At our branch meeting scheduled for 17 October, we will decide on the next steps.

Pay Claim Ballot

Members are urged to vote for industrial action so that we can exert maximum pressure on Vice Chancellors to cough up and make good on what we have lost over the last ten years while they have rewarded themselves and their Executive teams generously. It is time to drive home the message that we are the ones that keep the university going and we want our share of the pie. The success of sustained strike action over pensions in the Winter stunned university management across the country forcing them back to the negotiating table in a hurry. Let us make sure we disrupt their complacency over our pay this Winter!


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