Archive for category Industrial Action

University & College Union out on strike in Birmingham

Picket of UCU strikers University of Birmingham Friday 3rd December 2021
UCU Picket outside Birmingham University

UCU Picket outside Birmingham University Defending Higher Education

58 universities were hit with three days of strike action from Wednesday 1 December to Friday 3 December.

Earlier in November UCU members backed strike action in two separate ballots, one over pension cuts and one over pay & working conditions.

In the pension ballot, 76% of UCU members who voted backed strike action and 88% voted in favour of action short of strike. In the pay & working conditions ballot more than seven in 10 members who voted (70.1%) backed strike action with 85% (84.9%) voting for action short of strike. The National Union of Students (NUS) is backing staff who are taking industrial action.

The overall turnout on the pension ballot was 53% and on pay & conditions it was 51%. Ballots were disaggregated and 58 branches secured a mandate for strike action. UCU called on university bosses to urgently start negotiating to avoid disruption across UK campuses before Christmas. The disputes are over cuts of 35% to guaranteed pensions, pay cuts, casualisation, equality pay gaps and unsafe workloads.

Last week UCU wrote to employer representatives, Universities UK and the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, setting out how university bosses could avoid strike action before Christmas. The union is asking for pension cuts to be revoked; and for employers to improve their pay offer and commit to meaningful agreements and action on casualisation, workload, and equality pay gaps. But employers are currently refusing to revoke pension cuts or to even acknowledge issues like casualisation.

Staff pay has fallen by 20% after twelve years of below inflation pay offers; one third of academic staff are on insecure contracts; the gender pay gap sits at 15% and the most recent Higher Education Statistics Agency figures reveal that, of 22,810 professors in the UK, under a third (27%) were women and only 155 (1%) were Black; staff are also experiencing a crisis of work-related stress with over half showing probable signs of depression.

As well as the three day walkout, staff at 64 universities have a mandate to take action short of strike [NOTE 2]. This will also begin on Wednesday 1 December and will include strictly working to contract and refusing any additional duties. This is set to go on indefinitely for the five months staff have a mandate to take industrial action for.

UCU also intends to reballot a number of branches that missed the 50% turnout threshold imposed by Tory anti-trade union laws. The union said the three day strike will just be the start of sustained disruption for the sector if employers fail to negotiate.

The union intends to escalate its disputes next term. If employers do not make improved offers, further industrial action is likely to continue into the spring, at which point branches that gain a mandate in their reballots will be able to join the action.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘Strikes over three consecutive days are set to hit university campuses next month unless employers get round the table and take staff concerns over pension cuts, pay and working conditions seriously.

‘UCU has repeatedly asked employers to meet with us to try to resolve these disputes. But while we set out pragmatic solutions that could halt widespread disruption to UK campuses, university bosses refuse to revoke unnecessary, swingeing pension cuts or even to negotiate on issues like casualisation and the unbearably high workloads that blight higher education. 

‘A resolution to this dispute is simple. But if employers remain intent on slashing pensions and exploiting staff who have kept this sector afloat during a pandemic then campuses will face strike action before Christmas, which will escalate into spring with reballots and further industrial action.’

National Union of Students national president Larissa Kennedy said: ‘Students have a rich history of standing shoulder to shoulder with university staff, who have seen their pensions, pay and conditions slashed in recent years. With vice chancellors’ average total pay packets rising to £269,000 per year, it’s clear employers can afford to resolve their dispute with UCU over staff pay, which has fallen by an average of 20% in real terms since 2009. Staff teaching conditions are student learning conditions, and we mustn’t forget many postgraduate students on casualised teaching contracts will be striking. The onus for minimising disruption for students lies with university bosses: they must come back to the table to address the clear issues in how higher education is currently run.’

A recent report by the Office for Students shows total remuneration for vice chancellor’s averages £269k.

Support trade unionists on strike in prisons.

UCU Novus members working in prison education have been on strike Tuesday 11 May, and Wednesday 12 May in a dispute over health and safety. This covers 49 prisons and young offenders’ institutions and is the first time a prison education branch has taken industrial action.

The row centres on the employer Novus’s failure to meaningfully engage with UCU over Covid health and safety concerns and on-site provision. Also, Novus has refused to drop complaints and investigations against staff who have raised safety concerns – unfounded allegations and without reference to any formal procedures and against natural justice. As these staff are UCU’s health and safety representatives, UCU believes it is impossible for the employer to meaningfully engage in health and safety discussions until this intimidation stops.

Please support your colleagues. If ever there was a time to stand up and support your union colleagues, now is the time. Due to members’ fear of reprisals, there will be limited social media use. However you can fill this gap by taking the following actions:

Your support will give the branch a real boost – please send your messages today. You can find out more about the background to the dispute here.

Attack on staff at Aston University.

Defend staff at Aston University and the excellent teaching they provide.

Please sign the petition here.

Heartless bosses at Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham are firing and rehiring the porters on worse terms.

BTUC UNISON porters at Heartlands Solidarity Event 4pm Sunday, 21st February 2021

Porters at Heartlands are fighting to protect their working conditions support them by joining Banner in celebrating their actions so far.

UNSION members who are Heartland Hospital Porters are currently taking strike action about the proposed imposition of a new rota. This will result in them working detrimental rotating 8 shifts pattern.

The proposed rota impacts on our members health and well being; their caring responsibilities; their work/life balance and results in a significant cut in wages for many.

Banner have recorded some of the actions and comments from some of the porters and others engaged in fighting to protect their working conditions. This will also be an opportunity to discuss how we in Birmingham can support the porters and to hear from those engaged in the dispute. Please join us and give the porters much needed encouragement. Following video is a short preview that was shared at the BTUC meeting on Education in January.

Alternatively, join us on the BTUC Banner Solidarity Event with Heartland Porters Sunday the 21st Feb, 2021 04:00 PM

Meeting ID: 896 2838 8575 Passcode: 831143

If the Zoom meeting is full you can watch us live on Youtube by clicking the button below

BTUC Meeting on Economic and Employment impact of Covid19 in the Midlands

Thursday the 9th of July 7 pm – via Zoom

The meeting is called to discuss the gravity of the looming economic crisis and its effect on employment in the region. Key union representatives have been invited to speak about how the unions propose to overcome the crisis which could see millions of workers being left unemployed across the country. After the key speakers have spoken there will be an opportunity for attandees to ask questions and discuss with the panel the impact of the covid 19 on employment in the region and how they can be circumvented. Please join us.

Asif Mohammed who will be speaking from a trade union perspective on the West Midlands manufacturing base, their concerns and policies for future developments. Asif is chair the UNITE’s regional committee.Stefan

Cholewka will be expressing concerns on the short & long term effects of covid-19 on the manufacturing base.Stefan is from the Manchester TUC

TO Join the Zoom meeting follow the link below


https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89550888818?pwd=S2o3SWdhekxrRGc3WjMydit0Q3JoUT09

Alternatively, use the following credentials on Zoom

Meeting ID: 895 5088 8818
Password: 027430
One tap mobile
+442034815237,,89550888818#,,,,0#,,027430# United Kingdom
+442034815240,,89550888818#,,,,0#,,027430# United Kingdom

You can also login to the meeting by ringing one of the numbers listed below and enter the meeting ID and password as prompted.
+44 203 481 5237 United Kingdom
+44 203 481 5240 United Kingdom
+44 203 901 7895 United Kingdom
+44 131 460 1196 United Kingdom
+44 203 051 2874 United Kingdom
Meeting ID: 895 5088 8818
Password: 027430

Care Workers Dispute BTUC Press Release

The Birmingham TUC (BTUC) along with Birmingham Against The Cuts (BATC) say enough is enough of the continuing disgraceful treatment meted out to the City’s care-workers of whom 95% are women on low pay.

 Their dispute has gone on for some 15 months unresolved along with 60 days of strike action, whilst the Labour controlled council resolved the Bin workers dispute but has allowed the debacle of care-workers who also suffer changes in their work contracts with cuts in pay to continue.

These care-workers need the fullest public and trade union support to assist in their just claim of returning to their original terms and conditions in order to provide a service to this city’s needy who will be unable to afford private assistance.

The BTUC and BATC call upon Birmingham City Council to resolve this dispute as quickly as possible.

25 March 2019

The West Midlands Economy: Why we need a Strategy for Inclusive Growth

The West Midlands Economy: Why we need a Strategy for Inclusive Growth

The West Midlands Economy: Why we need a Strategy for Inclusive Growth

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