Higher education special sector conference: pay - motions

Motions debated at the special Higher Education Sector Conference on pay held on 7 November 2018.

Decisions are recorded below but can also be downloaded here [68kb].


CBC advice to chair: if composite motion 1 point numbered ii is passed, motion 2 point numbered 1 will fall.

1       Composite: Continue pay campaign - re-ballot on casualisation, equality, pay and workload - Newcastle University, University College London, University of Dundee, University of Brighton (Falmer)

Conference notes

  1. pay ballot with 69% in favour of strike action on a 42% turnout is the highest turnout for a pay ballot in UCU HE history.
  2. only eight HE institutions crossed the 50% threshold.
  3. that Newcastle University UCU had 46.7% turnout
  4. that many branches had turnouts of 35% or more
  5. if branches with a turnout of 40%+ reached 50%, 69% of balloted members could take industrial action. If branches with 35%+ reached 50%, 79% of members could strike.
  6. branches with an active GTVO campaign have succeeded in getting over the threshold
  7. turnout is increased by effective grassroots campaigns and well-timed ballot periods
  8. the 50% threshold contained in the anti-union laws is the only reason for considering the ballot result a setback
  9. many members are concerned this suggests a lack of interest in casualisation and equality.

Conference believes

  1. this issue will not go away. Crossing the 50% turnout threshold over pay and pensions is a strategic imperative for UCU
  2. the ballot demonstrates that members think pay, casualisation, workloads and pay inequalities are major issues they want the union to take action over
  3. without an active GTVO campaign beating the threshold is difficult.

Therefore conference resolves to

  1.  redefine the dispute as 'casualisation, equality, pay and workload'
  2. re-ballot all branches in the turnout range 35-50%, allowing other branches to opt in
  3. start a campaign immediately in the run-up to a new ballot before December
  4. plan a campaign for the exam period in spring 2019
  5. ensure that the ballot period is long enough to achieve a high turnout
  6. organise grassroots GTVO campaigns for a YES vote in the re-ballot
  7. call on UCU and NEC to actively engage with branches, speaking at meetings and producing local material
  8. encourage local and national protest foci such as 12 November, Pay Inequality Day.

Point ii FELL; CARRIED AS AMENDED

1A.1    University of Brighton, Grand Parade

Add at end:

Conference instructs the HEC to:

  • provide fresh GTVO materials to all reballoting branches emphasising the gender equality and anticasualisation elements of the claim
  • organise regional briefings to share effective GTVO techniques and help branches draft GTVO plans
  • coordinate visits to reballoting branches of NEC members and activists from branches which have already reached the threshold
  • establish, in conjunction with ROCC, a central task force to collate progress and assist branches where necessary.

CARRIED

1A.2     City, University of London

In Resolves iii delete 'before December'

Add to Resolves iii: 'in late January, early February'

Add to Resolves v 'and that the ballot starts and ends during term time.'

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Conference notes

  1. pay ballot with 69% in favour of strike action on a 42% turnout is the highest turnout for a pay ballot in UCU HE history.
  2. only eight HE institutions crossed the 50% threshold.
  3. that Newcastle University UCU had 46.7% turnout
  4. that many branches had turnouts of 35% or more
  5. if branches with a turnout of 40%+ reached 50%, 69% of balloted members could take industrial action. If branches with 35%+ reached 50%, 79% of members could strike.
  6. branches with an active GTVO campaign have succeeded in getting over the threshold
  7. turnout is increased by effective grassroots campaigns and well-timed ballot periods
  8. the 50% threshold contained in the anti-union laws is the only reason for considering the ballot result a setback
  9. many members are concerned this suggests a lack of interest in casualisation and equality.

Conference believes

  1. this issue will not go away. Crossing the 50% turnout threshold over pay and pensions is a strategic imperative for UCU
  2. the ballot demonstrates that members think pay, casualisation, workloads and pay inequalities are major issues they want the union to take action over
  3. without an active GTVO campaign beating the threshold is difficult.

Therefore conference resolves to

  1.  redefine the dispute as 'casualisation, equality, pay and workload'
  2. start a campaign immediately in the run-up to a new ballot in late January, early February
  3. plan a campaign for the exam period in spring 2019
  4. ensure that the ballot period is long enough to achieve a high turnout and that the ballot starts and ends during term time
  5. organise grassroots GTVO campaigns for a YES vote in the re-ballot
  6. call on UCU and NEC to actively engage with branches, speaking at meetings and producing local material
  7. encourage local and national protest foci such as 12 November, Pay Inequality Day.

Conference instructs the HEC to:

  • provide fresh GTVO materials to all reballoting branches emphasising the gender equality and anticasualisation elements of the claim
  • organise regional briefings to share effective GTVO techniques and help branches draft GTVO plans
  • coordinate visits to reballoting branches of NEC members and activists from branches which have already reached the threshold
  • establish, in conjunction with ROCC, a central task force to collate progress and assist branches where necessary.

2       Post-92s - Higher education committee

Despite factors common to both sectors there is a not unsurprising gap in turnout between pre and post 92s. Not having experience of the USS struggle and having had a larger scale of redundancies and restructurings has meant loss of union members and branch officers. This has, for a myriad of linked reasons (not possible to include here) resulted in many post 92 branches not reaching the threshold.

HESC believes that post 92 branch execs need to be better supported with more resources to organise all of their members.

HESC resolves to:

  1. re-ballot all post 92 branches with over 35% turnout with one ballot
  2. have a better timed ballot and provide resources to update branch members' details before the ballot
  3. step up strategies used by branches surpassing the thresholds
  4. make equality and workload demands and length of strike action more transparently specific
  5. review ballot results with branch execs.

Point 1 FELL; CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Despite factors common to both sectors there is a not unsurprising gap in turnout between pre and post 92s. Not having experience of the USS struggle and having had a larger scale of redundancies and restructurings has meant loss of union members and branch officers. This has, for a myriad of linked reasons (not possible to include here) resulted in many post 92 branches not reaching the threshold.

HESC believes that post 92 branch execs need to be better supported with more resources to organise all of their members.

HESC resolves to:

  1. have a better timed ballot and provide resources to update branch members' details before the ballot
  2. step up strategies used by branches surpassing the thresholds
  3. make equality and workload demands and length of strike action more transparently specific
  4. review ballot results with branch execs.

3       Learn lessons and re-ballot - Open University

Conference notes:

  1. that many branches missed by a very narrow margin the 50% threshold required under current TU legislation to enable legal industrial action.
  2. the average institutional percentage of Yes votes were:
    • over 66% for strike action
    • over 78% for ASOS.

Conference calls on the HEC to reflect on the pay ballot outcome and specifically to consider the:

  1. timing of ballot opening and preparing members in advance
  2. coordination between national and local activity
  3. reasons some branches achieved much higher participation than others.

Conference asks the HEC to consider re-balloting all branches where there is a realistic chance of getting a 50% turnout.

Conference calls on the national UCU to consider a legal challenge to this undemocratic legislation, preferably in conjunction with the TUC and other trades unions.

Conference resolves to continue to campaign vigorously on workload, casualisation and gender pay gap issues - these have the full support of our members.

Para 3 ('Conference asks..') FELL;  CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Conference notes:

  1. that many branches missed by a very narrow margin the 50% threshold required under current TU legislation to enable legal industrial action.
  2. the average institutional percentage of Yes votes were:
    • over 66% for strike action
    • over 78% for ASOS.

Conference calls on the HEC to reflect on the pay ballot outcome and specifically to consider the:

  1. timing of ballot opening and preparing members in advance
  2. coordination between national and local activity
  3. reasons some branches achieved much higher participation than others.

Conference calls on the national UCU to consider a legal challenge to this undemocratic legislation, preferably in conjunction with the TUC and other trades unions.

Conference resolves to continue to campaign vigorously on workload, casualisation and gender pay gap issues - these have the full support of our members.


4       The 50% threshold - Open University

This conference notes:

  1. the obstacles posed by the 50% threshold, which the OU and some other branches missed by a very narrow margin in the recent HE pay ballot
  2. the attempt by some employers to interfere with the democratic process
  3. that other unions are also seriously affected.

This conference asks UCU to:

  1. to intensify political campaigning against the 50% threshold, preferably with other unions
  2. to obtain legal advice as to the prospects of success for such a legal challenge citing potential breach of human rights.

CARRIED


5       Pay and equality dispute - University of Sheffield

Conference notes:

  1. HE members voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action, with the highest turnout on a pay and equality ballot in UCU history, indicating widespread willingness to take major industrial action
  2. the dispute claims of fair pay, gender pay equality, casualisation and workload remain unresolved at a national level.

Conference resolves:

  1. that the 2018/19 dispute should be resolved through national bargaining machinery and that individual local claims are ineffective and undermine national bargaining
  2. as a consequence of the 2018/19 dispute remaining unresolved, the union should complete a statutory ballot by the end of March 2019 at the latest so as to enter 2019/20 negotiations with a legal mandate for industrial action
  3. the statutory ballot will be national and aggregated.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

5A.1    University of Leeds

Replace all instances of 'national' with 'UK-wide' in reference to bargaining.

In point a, add 'on pay' after ' individual local claims'

Add additional point d:

'the union will invest in funding GTVO-focused resources and support for regional organisers and branches ahead of any future ballot.'

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Conference notes:

  1. HE members voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action, with the highest turnout on a pay and equality ballot in UCU history, indicating widespread willingness to take major industrial action
  2. the dispute claims of fair pay, gender pay equality, casualisation and workload remain unresolved at a national level.

Conference resolves:

  1. that the 2018/19 dispute should be resolved through UK-wide bargaining machinery and that individual local claims on pay are ineffective and undermine UK-wide bargaining
  2. as a consequence of the 2018/19 dispute remaining unresolved, the union should complete a statutory ballot by the end of March 2019 at the latest so as to enter 2019/20 negotiations with a legal mandate for industrial action
  3. the statutory ballot will be national and aggregated
  4. the union will invest in funding GTVO-focused resources and support for regional organisers and branches ahead of any future ballot.

6       Multi-year HE pay claims - University of St Andrews

HESC notes

  1. the failure of JNCHES negotiating machinery to deliver pay deals that make up real terms losses in pay;
  2. the compressed annual timetable for JNCHES pay and equalities negotiations;
  3. the effect of that timetable on organising campaigns around pay and equalities, especially campaigns involving ballots on industrial action.

HESC recommends that UCU's negotiators work with sister unions to develop multi-year pay and equalities claims in order to:

  1. commit the employer to making up real-terms loss in pay over several financial years
  2. identify early trigger points in a cycle of negotiations running over several years to enable earlier organisation of campaigns and ballots.

CARRIED


7       Study best timing and duration of ballots - University of Oxford

Conference notes:

  1. that while the turnout for our recent ballot was the highest yet for a Pay and Equality ballot, most branches were below threshold, so we should look for all possible optimisations for future
  2. the turnout was higher in the previous USS ballot, and one contributing factor may be the different timing in the academic year.

Conference calls on HEC to:

  1. study the best timing and duration for ballots, as well as the pros and cons of running concurrent ballots, by examining past ballots and gathering information from branches on their academic terms/semesters
  2. consider how to shift the timing of the annual pay negotiations to be more favourable for us
  3. report back to members at the 2019 Congress.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

7A.1    University of Leeds

Add new point c, re-do subsequent bullet lettering:

Investigate to what extent the use of consultative e-ballots prior to postal ballots is confusing to members and reduces the turnout in the actual postal ballot

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Conference notes:

  1. that while the turnout for our recent ballot was the highest yet for a Pay and Equality ballot, most branches were below threshold, so we should look for all possible optimisations for future
  2. the turnout was higher in the previous USS ballot, and one contributing factor may be the different timing in the academic year.

Conference calls on HEC to:

  1. study the best timing and duration for ballots, as well as the pros and cons of running concurrent ballots, by examining past ballots and gathering information from branches on their academic terms/semesters
  2. consider how to shift the timing of the annual pay negotiations to be more favourable for us
  3. investigate to what extent the use of consultative e-ballots prior to postal ballots is confusing to members and reduces the turnout in the actual postal ballot
  4. report back to members at the 2019 Congress.

8       Expand NDC to include pay and equality in remit - University of Oxford

Conference notes the formation of the National Dispute Committee for the USS dispute.

Conference resolves:

  1. to expand the National Dispute Committee so that it includes post-92 representation and for this expanded NDC to include the HE pay and equality dispute as part of its remit
  2. per Congress conventions, NDC meetings will be divided into a pay and equality segment for all representatives and a USS segment for USS representatives.

CARRIED


L1    Late motion, University of Brighton, Grand Parade

Conference notes:

  1. the decision of HEC on 1 November to survey branches 'to find their views on New JNCHES and UK level bargaining'
  2. reports in the press (Guardian and i, 2 November) that universities may go bankrupt in the near future
  3. UCU policy, including Conference 2017 HE2, is opposed to local pay bargaining.

Conference believes that to survey branches regarding alternatives to 'UK level bargaining' is at best a distraction and at worst an open invitation to employers to engage in local pay bargaining, at a time when the sector is threatened by market competition, speculative expansion and bankruptcies.

Conference resolves to instruct HEC not to commence this survey, and instead to consult over a national strategy for exceeding ballot thresholds in pursuit of national pay demands.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

Amendment from the floor

Add at the end:

and provide structured information and assistance to all branches to help members engage with and understand how New JNCHES and UK-wide bargaining works. This should help members to feel invested in UK-wide claims and bargaining that they understand with clarity.

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Conference notes:

  1. the decision of HEC on 1 November to survey branches 'to find their views on New JNCHES and UK level bargaining'
  2. reports in the press (Guardian and i, 2 November) that universities may go bankrupt in the near future
  3. UCU policy, including Conference 2017 HE2, is opposed to local pay bargaining.

Conference believes that to survey branches regarding alternatives to 'UK level bargaining' is at best a distraction and at worst an open invitation to employers to engage in local pay bargaining, at a time when the sector is threatened by market competition, speculative expansion and bankruptcies.

Conference resolves to instruct HEC not to commence this survey, and instead to consult over a national strategy for exceeding ballot thresholds in pursuit of national pay demands and provide structured information and assistance to all branches to help members engage with and understand how New JNCHES and UK-wide bargaining works. This should help members to feel invested in UK-wide claims and bargaining that they understand with clarity.

Last updated: 30 November 2018