Strike: 25 November – 4 December

UCU Edinburgh is joining other branches across the UK in taking industrial action to defend pensions, pay and equality.  We will be taking strike action 25 November – 4 December, and after that taking action short of a strike by working to contract.

More information on the strike and action short of a strike is available here: https://ucuedinburgh.wordpress.com/strike-info-and-resources/

Join the UCU, join the action! www.ucu.org.uk/join

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Key Points on the Pay and Pensions disputes (video)

UCU Sheffield organised a briefing this week for both members and non-members on the disputes and were lucky enough to have a member film the talks so they could be shared more widely. In the first video, Sheffield UCU President and USS negotiator, Sam Marsh, explains what’s going on with USS, while in the second video, Sheffield UCU VP and pay negotiator, Robyn Orfitelli, explains what’s going on with the pay & equalities dispute.

Pensions (USS)

Pay & Equalities

 

Climate Emergency Response

UCU Edinburgh members have wholeheartedly endorsed the following five points in relation to the climate emergency:

1.      We recognise that there is no longer any reasonable doubt that human driven climate change presents an unprecedented threat to all life on Earth and that this deserves to be treated as an emergency. This recognition represents an imperative for us all to consider what an appropriate response might be at all levels of global, national and local community and society.

2.      We warmly welcome the University’s and the Principal’s acceptance of this Climate Emergency. In a recent statement, prior to Sarah Smith’s message to Heads of College, Schools and Professional Services, he said “[a]s a global University, we are deeply concerned by the climate emergency and want to make a significant, sustainable and socially responsible impact”.  We wholeheartedly share this concern and wish to join the Principal and work creatively with him in developing the necessary responses to meet this emergency.

3.      We agree with the Principal that we can do this “by making sustainable choices and, through research and teaching, encouraging others to do likewise.” We also agree that research and teaching, while extremely valuable ways of promoting long term change, are not enough on their own, and it is incumbent on democratic organisations, including trade unions, to throw support behind popular demonstrations for political change.

4.      We further recognise that Edinburgh University (and Scottish Universities more generally) are uniquely placed to draw on our new National Performance Framework to create the futures we desire and aspire to; futures that are informed by the values statement that lies at the heart of the National Performance Framework and that seeks to deliver on the national outcome which challenges the Scottish people to “value, enjoy, protect and enhance our environment”.

5.      We have been called upon to support and show solidarity with the “Global Climate Strike” on the 20th of September. UCU has been campaigning for a 30-minute work stoppage to support this.

We encourage our members, where necessary, to discuss with managers how to arrange their duties in a way that allows them to take part in this action and to engage in demonstrations. We are delighted that, following Sarah Smith’s message, it has been now confirmed that the University fully supports the 30-minutes work stoppages and encourages staff to use this time productively in order to inform themselves about the climate crisis, as well as share their ideas about how to address it.

 

In line with these, we have asked the Principal for two things, one in relation to Friday September 20, the other for the longer term:

 

1.      We feel that, in order for staff and students to be able to fully take advantage of the opportunities to access crucial information and contribute with new ideas on 20 September, the University should suspend attendance monitoring of students and ensure no assignments are due that day. We therefore urged the Principal to consider this and to encourage the wider University Community to mark this day in a manner consistent with the declaration of an emergency.

2.      Moving forwards, we believe that a clear strategy (and lead from the Principal) is needed that ensures that all members of the University community can both access and afford the necessary environmentally sustainable choices, regardless of the economic and time pressures they may be subject to. Such a strategy will make it clear how we as a community are going to respond to the climate emergency and deliver on our commitments.

Thanks to the Student Occupation

28701133_127755248058387_6722297334269126907_oThe student occupation of the Gordon Aikman lecture theatre in George Square ended last Tuesday on the 6 week anniversary of it beginning.  It has been a real inspiration and, at our branch committee meeting yesterday evening, we agreed that it was fitting to mark the occasion and to thank all those involved for what has been achieved and for the foundations that have been created on which we all can build.

First of all, this was an expression of practical solidarity with our dispute, giving both visible and physical support for staff on strike.  Secondly, it correctly situated the dispute within the context of a wider malaise within HE, raising questions around the marketisation of the sector, the commodification of education and essentially challenging the prevailing orthodoxy about what a university should be.

Linking staff and student issues together was a backdrop to a forum where, through teach-outs, workshops and other events, a whole range of topics were discussed both conceptually and from a practical perspective.  This is both the legacy of the occupation and the mission for what comes next.

The occupation itself maybe over but the conversation continues.  The struggle for a democratic university continues.  Staff and students, shoulder to shoulder, continues.  Foundations have been laid and we will build on them together.  We are the University.

Motion to Congress

Passed at an Emergency General Meeting today, the following motion will go to UCU Scotland Congress on Friday.

This branch notes:

  1. That the evidence base for the proposed cuts to USS has been widely discredited and has been rejected by a majority of University leaders;
  2. The strength of the opposition to the proposed settlement (12/3/2018) across the UK.

This branch believes that it is illogical as well as detrimental to members to pursue changes to USS in the absence of a credible evidence base.

This branch calls on UCU Scotland to:

  1. Support branches in working with students and mobilising for escalation of the dispute, including further strike action;
  2. Work with national leadership to demand retention of the USS status quo pending a further valuation in which members can have confidence;
  3. Work with MSPs to use their influence with university leaders to bring UUK back to the negotiating table; and,
  4. Seek out and pursue fund-raising opportunities to support the Fighting Fund/local hardship funds

Strike – Local News

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Strike dates

Week one – Monday 26, Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 February (three days)
(Note that we’re not striking during the week beginning February 19th because it’s the Festival of Creative Learning, and a reading week in some colleges.)

Week two – Monday 5, Tuesday 6, Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 March (four days)

Week three – Monday 12, Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14, Thursday 15 and Friday 16 March (five days)

Week four – Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 March (two days)

We realise that this will be a difficult time for both staff and students. UCU national HQ are currently discussing the use of the union’s hardship fund, taking into specific consideration the conditions of casualised staff.

Further Information to Follow

We will send out more information shortly, and UCU UK will be releasing FAQ and information for students. It is important to note that we have widespread support from students, from NUS on a national level and EUSA on a local level.

Strike Committee

The branch have set up a strike committee – please email ucu@ed.ac.uk if you would like to join this planning group. You can also help in the run-up to industrial action by talking to your colleagues about the issues, and if they are eligible (professional services staff from Grade 6 upwards, academic staff, and postgraduates) encourage them to join UCU and take part in the fight to protect all our pension rights.

National updates

For updates, keep an eye on: https://www.ucu.org.uk/strikeforuss