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Important News – Message From UCU Chair

Picket LIne at Docklands

Picket LIne at Docklands

There have been a number of important developments in our dispute:

  •  The strike yesterday was a resounding success. Academic staff turned out in record numbers and from every School. For the first time there was a UCU picket at every site and only a handful of classes went ahead;
  •  Lecturers were joined on the picket line by students who turned out in very impressive numbers to support us;
  •  Management have made a (modest) revised offer which we will discuss with them tomorrow at Carlow Street and we will bring this and the outcome of our discussions to our emergency branch meeting. This has been called for: MONDAY 22 OCTOBER, 1.00PM, Docklands Campus, Room EB.G.14

Strike action

The strike on Thursday had a very significant impact across UEL. With a few exceptions classes did not take place. Picket lines were active and very positive, involving many academic staff who had not previously participated in this aspect of an industrial dispute. The mood was “uplifting” said one member at Docklands.

There was a strong sense of communal interest – of staff and students combining to defend their courses and their university. During impromptu meetings at the Docklands picket, UCU local officers and UEL students spoke about the importance of the dispute for the future of UEL.

A member of the National Executive brought greetings from National Union of Students and there were messages of solidarity from UCU branches including Cambridge University, Kings College London, Westminster University, London Met and Northampton University. There was also support from local trade union branches including Tower Hamlets Unison.

During the day an officer of the Student Union at UEL conducted a poll among students on campus at Docklands. Of 300 asked about their attitude to the dispute 295 expressed support for UCU action.

A UEL UCU branch officer writes:

“Many thanks to those members who supported the strike but were not available for picket duty and to those non-members who observed the strike. Also, thanks to non-members who chose to work at home.

There is general agreement across the institution that we have entered a period of crisis and that this is largely self-inflicted, notwithstanding the crisis in the sector. There is little point in rehearsing these arguments again when the reality of the situation is plain for all to see. The question is what as lecturers can we do about this?

The answer to this is very little if the UCU branch is not able to exercise a rational, moderate and progressive influence over the course of the University. For this reason it is absolutely vital that you continue to support the union at this crucial stage of the negotiations.

By supporting the strike you empower your negotiators and ratchet up the pressure on senior managers. We are asking not just for this support to be sustained but actually to grow over the course of the future actions.

To those colleagues who have taken action today we ask you to continue your support and continue explaining and discussing the dispute with your students. Please also make yourself available for picketing duties on the 24th and 29th October, especially if you were unable to join the picket lines today. It makes a massive difference if you not just take action but are seen to take action.

To those colleagues who did not take part in the strike action today because they felt the sacrifice too great or the action disproportionate or futile – we ask you to join us. Our power and therefore our capacity to be a moderating and rational influence lie simply in our acting together.”

 

Stratford Joint Union meeting on UEL management

Some 100 UEL staff attended a meeting called by UEL Joint Unions at Stratford on Wednesday 17 October to discuss the crisis at UEL and the role of management in creating it.

 

There will be a further Joint Union meeting to discuss this issue at Docklands today, Friday 19th October, 12:30pm in Room EB.G.08

 

Please read the Joint Unions’ statement below:

 

 

What you don’t know

 

Did you know that the Vice-Chancellor received a 9% increase in his already considerable salary in the last reporting period, whilst most staff have only been offered 1%? Probably not, because it’s one of those embarrassing facts that does not feature very prominently in InFocus, along with:

  • The overall response to the Staff Survey as it has been broken up and sent to Schools individually to discuss, because management don’t want you to know how unhappy staff are across UEL.
  • Management’s explanation of why, after over two years of the VC’s Transformation for Excellence Strategy, UEL is still languishing near the bottom of all the important league tables.
  • That management are changing their employment policies one-by-one (sickness absence, disciplinary, etc.) to make them more and more punitive.
  • That our Services are being picked off, one-by-one, in a series of privatisations and re-organisations that amounts to a full-scale, but undeclared, redundancy programme. First security, then catering, and at no point have they called in unions to discuss alternatives to redundancy as required under our ‘Managing Organisational Change’ Policy;
  • That the University’s Branches of UCU, Unison and Unite have all protested about a campaign of victimisation against local branch officers. A “show trial” for gross misconduct for valued colleague Tony Britton (Unite Branch Secretary) takes place at Docklands Campus on 25thOctober at 1.30. Tony is an excellent union officer who has helped many UEL staff – please help him now and register your protest outside this kangaroo court.
  • The management are planning to implement a Performance Management process which is designed to identify ‘poor performers’ in order to dismiss them.

What you do know

You will have seen that our managers are becoming more “assertive”, more “results-focused” and more “alert to key performance indicators” (and, quite frankly, more frightened and frightening). Meanwhile staff, who are being asked to do more work with less staff by increasingly authoritarian managers, are paying with their physical and mental health. We all know of at least one colleague (the campus trades unions know of very many) who has become ill because of an unrelentingly impossible workload, or because of a bullying manager. We all know, as well, that neither senior management, nor HR Services will address either the impossible workload (for academic staff they actually want to increase it) or the bullying manager. Instead they harass the individual concerned, by insensitively enforcing the sickness absence monitoring policy which they also want to change to make even more draconian. Management are creating a culture of fear at UEL that none of us should be prepared to accept !!!

What to do now

The joint unions are so concerned with what is happening that we are now working together. We have called all staff meetings at both campuses, where we will be able to tell you what you won’t be told in Infocus. So, if you are not prepared to accept the way management are behaving, please join us to discuss what we can do to fight back!

Joint Unions meeting (Unison – Unite – UCU) at Docklands: Friday 19th October 12:30pm Room EB.G.08

 

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