Higher Education E-Bulletin Issue 33 Nov/Dec 2008

  • University Sector Pension Forum
  • Industrial Action and dispute at University of Sussex
  • 2009 Pay Claim
  • New “Brown Book” published
  • The “largest ever mass redundancy” in Australia ‘s higher education sector
  • Bargaining Brief
  • Students at Limerick force yet another ministerial U-turn
  • Policies extend privilege, not participation
  • Recession Report – November 2008

University Sector Pension Forum
The joint negotiating body in HE, the New JNCHES, has agreed to establish a Pensions Discussion Group to look at what work or agreements could be jointly done together between trade unions and the employers association UCEA. The group is expected:

1. to exchange views on pensions provision across the sector;

2. to discuss the impact of increasing cost pressures on the affordability and sustainability of the pension schemes provided by HEIs;

3. to discuss the impact of government regulation on pensions provision;

4. to promote pensions as a valuable and attractive part of remuneration to attract and retain high quality staff in the sector.

Group Membership, to be determined, will comprise representatives of all parties to the New JNCHES arrangements and meetings will be held, at least, twice a year.

Industrial Action and dispute at University of Sussex
Mike Robinson, National Officer, Higher Education, Unite the Union. 11th November 2008

Over the last 4 weeks Unite members at University of Sussex have been taking a series of strike days to highlight the detrimental changes to staff pensions that the management at University of Sussex are forcing through.

The proposals are to close the University pension scheme to new starters or anyone who as not joined and to apply a defined benefit money purchase type scheme to those outside the existing scheme.

Unite members have tried to engage in a dialogue of other ways to address the pension scheme problems and are prepared to look at ways of helping the scheme reach satisfactory changes.

University of Sussex management however are determined to ignore sensible suggestions or to consider other ways of resolving the issues but insist the only option is to close the scheme for new starters or staff who are not yet in the scheme.

Our members at University have held demonstrations, industrial action, picketed the workplace and many other ways of trying to get their point across.

There are a further two strike days planned on the 13th and 20th November.

Unite is calling a major lobby in Brighton on the 20th November. Any Unite member who wants to come along and show support and solidarity to our members at University of Sussex would be made most welcome by the Unite members involved in this dispute.

This is a dispute our members deserve to win anything you can do by circulating this letter to groups and branches or by getting regional councils to donate would assist enormously.

If groups, branches or regional councils intend to support the Unite members on strike by attending on the 20th November or by any financial support can you contact the Unite Strike Committee at University of Sussex via Branch Secretary Paula Bartle email p.a.bartle@sussex.ac.uk and the Branch Treasurer John Knight

On behalf of our members in dispute thank you.

2009 Pay Claim
Mike Robinson, National Officer, Higher Education, Unite the Union.

UCU are reported to be preparing for a strike on pay in 2009 (Times Higher Education 13/11/08 – UCU delegates agreed to ballot for industrial action if the claim was not considered promptly ). Unite as part of New JNCHES are more measured and will consider a detailed claim with the other HE unions Unison, GMB and EIS shortly, once the full report of the HE data group, headed by Baroness Fritchie, issues its findings. Mike Robinson, National Officer, Higher Education said “Unite is not rushing to a dispute. Instead we will present a cogent claim agreed with our trade union colleagues based on sound facts not sound bites”.

New “Brown Book” published
Susan Murray –  0207 611 2596

The HSE Approved Code of Practice and Guidance Safety Representatives and Safety Committees L87 has now been replaced by a new HSE publication Consulting Workers on Health and Safety. Approved Codes of Practice and Guidance L146.

L146 includes both the 1977 Regs and the 1996 Regs, plus new appendices which list other health and safety legislation which requires safety reps to be consulted, provided with information and instruction and training. This is available from HSE Books.

The TUC has produced its own version which includes only the expanded ACoP and guidance to the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees 1977 Regulations and the appendices referred to above.

The link to it on the TUC website.

The “largest ever mass redundancy” in Australia ‘s higher education sector
Victoria University staff are likely to take industrial action after what a union is calling the “largest ever mass redundancy” in Australia ‘s higher education sector.

University Vice-Chancellor Professor Elizabeth Harman announced last Friday 250 jobs would be slashed in order to prepare itself for future challenges.

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) said it would be recommending industrial action when it met with staff on Tuesday.

Victorian secretary Matthew McGowan said the university has shown disregard for staff and students in making the decision.

“Such a large number of job losses can only mean increased workloads for remaining staff,” Mr McGowan said.

The NTEU will see a collective agreement that would increase rights for casual staff and put limitations on the use of contracts.

Click here to read the complete story.

Bargaining Brief
The latest Bargaining Brief (BB), November/December 2008.

If you have any questions about BB please contact;

Steve Martin, Research Officer, Unite the Union , Amicus section, Mobile no: 07918 640597

Students at Limerick force yet another ministerial U-turn
by Barry Duggan, Independent.ie, Tuesday November 18 2008

STUDENTS forced a Government minister to trudge across two counties in appalling weather yesterday when they blocked a road bridge.

Arts, Sports and Tourism Minister Martin Cullen was not singing in the rain when 400 students prevented his cavalcade from reaching the Irish Chamber Orchestra’s new home at the University of Limerick.

The Fianna Fail TD was forced to do a physical U-turn and walk across the campus, taking the country’s longest pedestrian bridge over the Shannon.

The protest against the proposed reintroduction of third-level fees delayed the official opening of the ICO’s new home by an hour.

Policies extend privilege, not participation
Times Higher Education, 13 November 2008, By Melanie Newman

Quotas and affirmative action offer models for real change, debate hears. Melanie Newman reports Universities are practicing a form of social engineering aimed at “perpetuating largely white middle-class privilege”, it was argued at a Times Higher Education debate last week.

According to Harinder Bahra, professor of management and diversity at Leeds Metropolitan University : “The expansion (of higher education) has increased participation but not widened participation.”

Institutions replicate inequalities through admissions policies and organisational culture, Professor Bahra said at the debate, part of the Equality Challenge Unit conference “Evidence for Equality”.

“How many black staff are found in senior positions as role models or work in admissions – apart from the customary black outreach worker, funded from the widening participation budget?” he asked.


Recession Report – November 2008

In the first edition of the TUC Recession Report they aim to give an idea of the scale of the recession we are entering, and consider how issues of vulnerable employment are affected by recession.

This e-bulletin has been produced by Rick Graham, Unit Researcher for the Higher Education sector. If you have any news items or stories you would like included in this bulletin please contact Rick.

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