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Disruption and deductions – have your say!

Published: 13th February, 2020

This is the text of an email sent to all members of Leicester UCU. If you are a member of Leicester UCU, please check your inbox for this email: it contains a unique link to the poll. You cannot access it from here, for obvious reasons.

We need your opinion! Please think carefully about the following decision concerning the way we conduct our forthcoming strikes (14 days between 20 February and 13 March) and implications for pay deductions. (For more information on the reasons we’re striking again, please see this message sent last week.)

[Note: EGM – plan the strike – Wednesday 19 February – 1–2.30pm – Attenborough LT3]

At a dispute resolution meeting held yesterday between University managers and Leicester UCU, Edmund Burke, deputy vice-chancellor, expressed concern about the level of disruption on campus during previous rounds of strike action, in particular, the noisy demonstrations in front of the Fielding Johnson Building. Professor Burke has therefore offered us a deal.

The University is offering to spread salary deductions (14 days’ pay) over three months (May-June-July). In exchange we must agree to the following two conditions:

  1. To not demonstrate on campus.
  2. To recommend to members that we report strike action using HR’s online form.

We are disappointed to be placed into this position. We had hoped that our relationship with the University leadership was on a better footing. For example,

  • we have agreed a joint statement on the report of the Joint Expert Panel (JEP);
  • we have engaged fully in dispute resolution meetings;
  • we have continued to engage in other initiatives, looking at redundancy processes, for instance, among others;
  • we have liaised with University security to ensure we picketed in a mutually agreed and safe way.

Furthermore, given that staff morale was supposedly a key consideration for the University, threatening to deduct salary in a more draconian way for a national dispute seems to suggest that this is no longer a priority.

We are writing as principal officers of Leicester UCU (co-chairs, vice-chair, co-secretaries and communications officer). We believe the decision on whether to accept Professor Burke’s deal must be made by the membership as a whole:

  • It is the branch membership as a whole that picket – not only the six principal offers of the branch. Everyone who pickets will have to restrain themselves if we accept the deal;
  • It is all members who will suffer if deductions are not spread over three months – and for some this will create grave financial problems – that is, if we reject the deal.

We – the principal officers – have agreed that the most appropriate way to consult members is via an online poll. Click on this link to go the survey. As well as ‘yes’ and ‘no’ options on the deal, there is a space for comments: we urge you to share your thoughts with us. The poll will close at midday on Wednesday 20 February and we will report back the collective branch view as soon after that as we can – reporting both to you and to the University leadership team.

Finally, two important points.

First, whatever the decision we do not see our role as one that includes policing members’ behaviour. If you decide that we should not disrupt business on campus, please do not expect us to attempt to enforce that decision. We will of course explain it to members and encourage members to respect it. But we will be looking to everyone to regulate their own behaviour and that of their neighbours.

Second, whatever decision is made now, we know full well that strikes are dynamic events – a lot can change over 3½ weeks. We therefore accept that we may need to revisit our decision as the strike unfolds.

As noted in parenthesis above, we have planned an extraordinary general meeting, next Wednesday afternoon – the day before we start striking – in order plan strike activities. This will take place in Attenborough LT3, starting at 1pm. All Leicester UCU members and supporters are welcome to attend.

Nick Adkins (co-secretary)
Gareth Brown (co-secretary)
Helen Eborall (vice-chair)
David Harvie (communications officer)
Deirdre O’Sullivan (co-chair)
Sarah Seaton (co-chair)