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April, 2012:

Current ballot on industrial action

Message from your UCU branch secretary

Dear colleague,

Current ballot on industrial action

I am writing to urge you to vote YES to industrial action and action short of a strike – and I would like to share with you my reasons why it crucial that we do this. (more…)


Workload allocation is a key element of academic staff terms and conditions. Allocation of workload must be reasonable, equitable and transparent.  It should take account of class sizes and acknowledge the real time that different duties and responsibilities involve, with comparability between schools and within schools. The means for allocating academic workload is a contractual issue that must be negotiated and agreed with UCU as the recognised trade union for academic staff at UEL. The agreed UEL Academic Workload Allocation Model (AWAM) allocates hours within an annual total of 1548 hours to different duties and responsibilities academics fulfil thereby ensuring a reasonable distribution among academic staff.


  • accounts for the full range of work that academics undertake: teaching, research, tutorials, administration, programme leadership, school-wide roles, open days/admissions, outreach and committees
  • accounts for module size – larger modules with greater assessment loads are allocated more hours than smaller modules 
  • accounts for the additional preparation necessary both for developing new modules and teaching a new module for the first time
  • is flexible – if responsibilities change, this is reflected in a revised timetable
  • clearly identifies allocation of the 1548 working hours per year

 AWAM is open, fair, transparent and was negotiated by UCU in the interests of both academic staff and management.

 In the last year management have sought to replace AWAM by imposing a new ‘Academic Portfolio Reference Model’ (APRM) which is, in comparison, overly mechanistic and inequitable. UEL management have acknowledged that APRM is not an algorithm for allocation of workload and stated that it is not intended that a member of academic staff be designated a band and their workload allocated accordingly.  Yet this is exactly what has happened with academic workloads increased as a result, often at short notice. APRM has not been agreed and, as a consequence, there is now no uniform practice of work-load management across the university.

 What UEL needs is an agreed, workable, workload allocation mechanism for academic staff; the APRM does not deliver this; it is not fit for purpose and has been imposed without agreement. 

UCU is seeking a fair and transparent workload allocation model.

UEL management need to negotiate and agree a new model that will provide reasonable and equitable academic workloads across the University, to the benefit of staff and students alike. Despite committing to negotiate with UCU about workloads, senior management have failed to enter into meaningful discussion of a new academic workload model and have instead persisted with the attempted imposition of the fundamentally flawed APRM.

UCU’s priority is to defend your interests.  We want to see a fair, transparent, flexible and equitable workload allocation process; we are willing to discuss an improved alternative to the agreed AWAM but any changes must be negotiated and agreed with your union.

Despite management protestations to the contrary, it is now absolutely clear that the only way to ensure a negotiated and agreed system for fair workload allocation at UEL is through a strong YES vote for industrial action in the current ballot.  A clear YES vote will strengthen UCU’s negotiating position.

VOTE YES to reject the imposition of the divisive APRM

VOTE YES to tell management that their unwillingness to consult and negotiate with UCU cannot continue, and that we demand a fair workload allocation model



For and on behalf of UCU @ UEL Branch Committee

University and College Union UCU


The ballot papers for industrial action have been sent out by the electoral reform society. It is essential that the you vote so that the result of the ballot can be clearly to be representative of the UeL UCU branch as a whole.  If you do not receive your ballot paper by wednesday 18th April then please contact UCU. The ballot paper will be sent to the prefered address that you have set with UCU so it may be your home address or it may be your work address. The closing date for the ballot is noon friday 27th April 2012.

Please vote and vote YES to both Strike Action AND Action Short of a Strike.  We need both options available to us.

Student Experience Symposium

We are seeking a day and time and will discuss possible dates at the Branch meeting.  We are also considering holding it between 5.30 and 7.30 to include a social event afterwards.  The question is when!  UCU knows that many of you have good ideas about what would improve the student experience at UEL . We need to find a way to offer a report from our discussions as soon as possible.

Professorial Pay Review Scheme

A proposal from management regarding a new Professorial Pay Review Scheme has been circulated to Readers and Professors.  It replaces the previous negotiated agreement withdrawn by management without informing any staff concerned or their union.  Following the HERA meetings and the signing of National Framework Agreement UCU represents those members of the Readers and Professoriate that are also members of UCU.   It is causing much discussion among Readers and Professors. We ask all Readers and Professors to come and update the Branch with their views on this proposal and for the Branch to agree what to do next and how the Branch will support Readers and Professors over this very serious issue.  It is of great concern that the existing scheme was withdrawn without any discussion and what is being proposed is also of great concern on several levels.

MIS-USE of temporary staff at UeL

MacJobs contract surfaces again at UEL

We thought this had all gone following the signing of the Framework and Part-Time Pay and Grading Agreements but UCU have reports of the misuse of temporary staff at UEL despite these agreed policies.  The Pay and Grading Agreement set out the categories of Part-Time staff at UEL and sought to  protect part-time staff (particularly Hourly Paid staff) and prevent exploitation.  It appears that one School is offering £2k to individuals (not even given the title of lecturer) to Module lead.  For this they are responsible for all teaching and marks, processing of marks, attendance at Boards etc.  They do not receive holiday or sick pay but are paid travel expenses!  This is a cynical attempt by one school to circumvent agreed policy on the employment of part-time staff and any good HR department should have prevented this.   The implications of this development is of concern for all members and a suitable response to about this issue to management must be discussed at the branch meeting.

Branch Communication Protocol

At our last branch meeting it was unanimously agreed that we would adopt the  UEL-UCU Branch Communications Protocol as Appendix 2 of our Local Rules.  Under UCU National Rules members of Senior Management Grades are able to join UCU.  This can bring them into a conflict of interest with the membership at times especially in relation to industrial action. For example, at a one meeting four senior staff, who are also members of UCU, were representing Management.  This protocol sets out the types of communication that will go to the whole membership and when communication will be withheld from senior staff.  It also sets out when senior staff should absent themselves from Branch meetings.


Ballot for Industrial Action

UCU will be balloting members with regard to strike action and action short of a strike next week. Our next Branch meeting is therefore a very important meeting and is probably the most important meeting in the history of UEL and its union representation. The meeting will be held at Stratford on Wednesday 18th April (1.15-2.30) RB1.14.  We are asking all qualifying members from both sites (see UEL-UCU Branch Communications Protocol) to attend in order to discuss the opening of the ballot for Industrial Action next week at UEL along with other important developments at UEL.

Assessment and Feedback Policy

UCU is pleased to see that a further two week consultation period has been offered for the Assessment and Feedback Policy. Whilst there is much to welcome in this policy as it does bring together and set some useful guidelines UCU is also aware that many staff would like to comment on some of the changes and wish to express them to UCU rather than to Deans or Field Leaders.  Click to see the ASSESSMENT AND FEEDBACK POLICY 2012 26 03 12.

Please contact your School Rep with your comments or Jacqui Mitchell if in School of Psychology (yes we do need a volunteer here) and we will collate them into a document for Julie Baldry-Currans.   The deadline for comments, to give us time to collate them, will need to be 24th April to meet the 25th April deadline.

Regional Official to attend Stratford Branch Meeting

Greg Barnett, UCU Regional Official for London, will be in attendance and will, with your local negotiators, discuss why there must be a resounding YES vote to force a change in management style towards academic staff at UEL in general.   It is of profound concern to UCU negotiators that so many changes are being made by management without meaningful consultation let alone negotiation.  It is now time for the Branch (you) to defend our working conditions because they  are not going to improve unless you are prepared to defend them.

Branch meeting Wednesday 18th April in Stratford (1.15-2.30 in RB1.14)

The next Branch meeting will be one of the most important meetings in the history of the Branch and we ask ALL members to attend as we will be opening the ballot for Industrial Action next week at UEL over local issues. Agenda items will include:  Industrial Action – including discussion of working conditions and workload allocation. Breaking of negotiated agreements –  Hourly Paid Lecturers Agreement, Professorial Pay Review Scheme, Appeal process; Electronic feedback of coursework and Assessment and Feedback Policy in general (see below);  Student Experience at UEL Symposium – change of date and time. AOB.


UCU Branch Secretary