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Keele UCU International Women’s Day 2016 Event

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Please join us – and invite your colleagues (non-members and non-women are welcome!) – to celebrate and commemorate International Women’s Day 2016 from 12-1pm, Monday 7 March in WM1.02 (Walter Moberly Building).

Rhiannon Lockley – West Midlands Women’s Officer – will be speaking about the gender pay gap in addition to providing an update on TEF, the findings of the UCU sexual harassment survey, the changes in FE (and the future of education in the UK).

2016 is the year of Pay Parity – the focus of IWD around the world will be on working to end the gender pay gap. The World Economic Forum estimates that it will take 117 years to close the gap at current rates. There are lots we can do to speed up that process, including pledging for parity.

We will also be showing the UCU’s film, ‘A Woman’s place is in the Union‘, which highlights the relationship between immigrant working class struggles for suffrage and workers’ rights and the establishment of International Women’s Day:

USS Consultation begins today, 16 March

The USS consultation on reforms to the scheme begins today and lasts 60 days. We would encourage all members of the scheme (not only UCU members) to respond to this consultation and we are happy for our guidance to be used by anyone doing so.

There are template answers in guidance from UCU HQ here (pdf).

Keele UCU has put together a guidance document highlighting what we have identified as the 5 key issues. Please make these points where appropriate and emphasise them in any ‘additional comments’ boxes.

  1. The need for a more meaningful valuation method.
  2. The danger of the proposal to transfer the bulk of USS assets from equities into low growth investments, such as gilts.
  3. The absence of a justification for the proposal to introduce ‘individual defined-contribution’ pension funds for salaries above £55,000.
  4. The negative change in the value for money of the scheme.
  5. The negative effect on members in the ‘final salary’ section.

We have explanatory information on all five points with sources and further reading in the guidance document:

Download (PDF, 72KB)

Print and post the flyer here to direct colleagues to K-UCU’s guidance document (QR code included):

Download (PDF, 67KB)

26th February, Keele UCU presents an evening “Commemorating the Miners’ Strike”

Please don’t miss this event to commemorate the Miners’ Strike.


  • Professor Roger Seifert – author ‘Struggle without end’
  • Brenda Proctor – North Staffs Miners’ Wives and National Chair of Women Against Pit Closures
  • Paul Winter – Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign

Plus a viewing of the inspirational Anne Marie Sweeney film for the National Women Against Pit Closures – GOING THROUGH THE CHANGE.

“The women, whose voices we will hear in this film, are amongst some of the most frontline and experienced campaigners in the last thirty years: for women’s equality; for the survival of their communities; for trade union rights; for peace and for an end to military occupation and invasion. This is no piece of nostalgia but a vibrant important film, from filmmaker Anne-Marie Sweeney, which will have relevance to all those fighting injustice in years to come.”  Brenda Procter, National Chair of NWAPC

Thursday 26th February, 6pm start – Room CBA0.060 Chancellor’s, Building, Keele University

ALL WELCOME – Refreshments available

For further details contact please Steve French (

Picture of  Women Against Pit Closures struggling with police


Also, as part of the 30th anniversary, there are 2 events on the 28th February at the Mitchell Arts Centre:

  • 4:00pm – 6:00pm –  film screening of We Are Not Defeated and a Q&A with Jim Dowling (President of NUM Power Group), Bridget Bell (North Staffs Miners Wives Action Group) and Paul Mackney (Former UCU President).
  • 6:45pm – 8:15pm  – Burning Issues, in which Banner Theatre re-visit the striking communities they visited in 1984 to celebrate in song, music and video their historic struggle to examine its enduring significance today.

Tickets are free but must be booked –  please call 01782 409307, call in at box office or email  Find out more at

Recourse Update

Recourse, the free support service for staff in HE and FE, has announced it will be merging with the Teacher Support Network to provide emotional, practical and financial support to all staff working in education.

Recourse is a charity providing practical and emotional support if you are experiencing problems in your home life (managing your finances, coping with bereavement or struggling with your relationship) and issues you are faced with in your work life. Complementing the support offered to you by your union, Recourse can help you to deal with difficult relationships with colleagues, better manage your workload, improve your time management or deal with the impact of redundancies and change.

You can download support materials, sign up for the Recourse Magazine, get information on the coaching services, and also access details of their telephone and online counselling chat/email services from their website.

Free call (from landlines) the hotline 24/7: 0808  802 03 04.

Voter Registration – National Elections May 2015

As you would expect UCU is campaigning hard to put education at the heart of the Westminster general election campaign as we approach May 2015. You may also be aware that declining voter turnout is likely to worsen under the new system of individual registration and that this is particularly likely to affect students and younger workers (currently 30% of 18-24 year olds are not registered).

It’s crucial to UCU that everyone with a stake in post-school education has a voice in the political process and that’s why UCU has been working with the National Union of Students (NUS) and party neutral campaign group Bite The Ballot to engage our members and their students in a nationwide voter registration campaign.

Keele UCU will be contacting all members with information in the coming week.

We are delighted to be working with Bolu Oyewale, Keele SU President, and the team at Keele Students’ Union on this campaign.

If you have recently moved to Keele or haven’t registered since you started here, please go to the official portal and register to vote now!

USS Update

The USS dispute is now over, following the majority ‘Yes’ vote in the recent ballot. The marking and assessment boycott will not be resuming.

The result of the online ballot, which closed on 26 January, was as follows:

Do you wish to accept the proposals as outlined in the covering letter? 

Number of votes cast: 15,706
Number voting YES: 10,538 (67.1%)
Number voting NO: 5,168 (32.9%)

Turnout: 39.1%

You can view the scrutineer’s report here The JNC has agreed to progress the changes to USS with an expected implementation date of 1 April 2016. USS via the employers will conduct a statutory consultation.

Marking and Assessment Boycott Suspended

The UCU announced this morning – in a joint statement with Universities UK (UUK) – that the marking and assessment boycott is suspended from today (20 November) until 15 January 2015.

Joint Statement:

The University and College Union (UCU) and Universities UK (UUK) have confirmed, following discussions yesterday (Wednesday), an agreement to suspend the industrial action in relation to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pensions dispute from today (Thursday 20 November) until after the joint negotiating committee (JNC) meeting scheduled for Thursday 15 January 2015.

UCU and UUK have agreed to a series of negotiating meetings between now and the scheduled January JNC. It is hoped that this period can be used to close the differences between the negotiating positions, with a view to reaching agreement on reforms to the USS scheme.

Both parties are committed to seeking a joint proposal for reform that offers an affordable, sustainable and attractive pension scheme, for both current and future members. Both parties are pleased that the agreement to suspend industrial action at this early stage will mean that students will not have been adversely affected and members of staff will not have had pay deducted.

Living to work

The THE has an interesting article by Doris Ruth Eikhof on the problem of vague expectations in academia and the problematic tendency to over-work:

[N]o matter how productive the academic, there is always an incentive to do more work. And not, as Schell suggests, because we love our work or live in a long-hours culture, but because we don’t know when to stop.

First, it is nigh on impossible to say how much is enough – to fulfil one’s contract, to get promotion or to stand out in the labour market. Second, universities as employers have very little power and, at first glance, no incentive to rein in their staff’s sector engagement. From their perspective, it is a case of the more the better since it gives the institution more visibility and influence in the sector and beyond.

Keele announces 20% pay deductions

Notification was sent to all staff at the University today, 11 November, that Keele University will deduct 20% of pay from staff participating in the assessment and marking boycott:

[…] the University has made the decision that at this time we will withhold 20% of pay at a daily rate of 1/365th of salary from the date on which you begin to take part in the industrial action short of a strike.


Staff are advised that the University has determined that employer and employee pension contributions will be maintained for staff partaking in this action for any period in which pay is withheld, and that as such all protections provided through the pension scheme will be maintained.


Pensions Dispute: Bullying tactics violate workers’ human rights

Professor Alan Bogg (University of Oxford) and Professor KD Ewing (King’s College London) have written a blog post for the Institute of Employment Rights (a labour movement think tank) outlining the ways in which recent threats to staff participating in industrial action are problematic from a human rights law perspective (note: this has not happened at Keele):

If the threats are empty gestures by bullying employers, the universities issuing such threats may be regarded as breaking the employment contract through a breach of the term of mutual trust and confidence. This has been used as a standard to challenge other forms of workplace bullying and harassment by employers, and the issuing of threats known to be empty but with the objective of intimidating, particularly in an otherwise lawful dispute, would seem to constitute a repudiatory breach of contract by the employer.

[…]Penalising strikers in lawful disputes through threats to sue appears to be incompatible with the growing case law under Article 11.