Birkbeck UCU | News | Dispute Bulletin No. 5

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Dispute Bulletin No. 5

Strikes continue to maintain pressure on the employers

Strikes will continue, for four days from Monday 5 March and for the whole week starting Mon 12 March, in order to maintain the maximum pressure on employers. It is true they have agreed to talks about the UCU pension proposals, starting on Mon 5 March, and under the auspices of ACAS, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. ACAS has a strong track record of helping resolve disputes, so we shall see what happens. It is also true that the employers demanded a suspension of strike action and that UCU refused. Why?
In the first place, we simply don’t know whether the employers are acting in good faith or simply caving in to pressure. They have been denounced across the board, in The Times, The Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, and The Observer. The Channel 4 Dispatches investigation into VC expenses (shown Mon 26 Feb and now on All4, revealed a culture of greed and indulgence. Even Conservative Ministers have condemned their behaviour. In short, the VCs are isolated and friendless so their agreement to talks is clearly action taken under duress.
Second, because we have good reason not to trust them and because they have not, so far, made any substantive concessions, we need to keep them under pressure in order to prevent any backsliding on their part.
Union Branch Meeting, Fri 9 March, Main Building, 1.00 – 2.00 pm, room tbc
This will be an opportunity both to review progress of the strike and picketing to date and also to discuss progress in the negotiations and feedback any views, issues or concerns to our negotiators.
Strike declaration

1. General We are required to inform management about our strike participation, if asked, ‘after the strike’. For legal purposes, this means we can either be asked at the end of the whole strike period, 17 March, or fter each few days of strikes - as we have been this week - so we should respond accordingly.
2. Part time staff should report strike participation only on your normal working days, irrespective of whether you joined the strike or the picket lines on your non-work days. For instance, I am on a 0.5 fte post and work Wed afternoon, Thursday and Friday. Mon, Tues

and Wed morning are non-work days for me so I will NOT be reporting strike participation on those days (despite my involvement in the strike, what we do on our non-work days is our business!).
3. T&S Staff Where your seminars or classes have not taken place because the module convener has cancelled teaching on strike days, there is no point in declaring you were on strike. The college should then pay you because you were available for work. If you feel uneasy about being paid when others are losing money, give it to a good cause of your choice!
Where strike action has been called on days you don't normally teach, then as with part time employees, you don't declare strike involvement.

Action short of a strike (ASOS) and UCAS event 10 March
The union industrial action ballot covered both strikes as well as action short of a strike (ASOS), although the latter has been somewhat overshadowed by the overwhelming success of the strikes and picket lines. However, as part of ASOS we are NOT working above and beyond our contract or performing duties that are voluntary. Participation in a weekend event such as the UCAS Day on Sat 10 March clearly falls under UCU’s national ASOS guidelines. With the exception of the attendants and some library staff, we do not normally work on Saturdays. Therefore staff requested to participate in this event should decline to do so and report any problems to union officers (see below for contact details). Equally, administrative or academic staff asked to cover for absentees should decline to do so.
Membership surge!
In common with many other UCU branches, BIrkbeck UCU is experiencing a surge in membership. Since the beginning of February we have recruited 80 new members, an increase of almost 20% and a fantastic achievement.
Whether you are a new member, or a not-so-new member, there are plenty of opportunities to become more active in the union. Contact any of the union officers below to have a chat about ways in which you can participate and make a difference.
Picketing and picket rota
Many thanks to all those who have signed up to the picketing rota and thanks in advance to those not on the rota but intending to show up next week (Mon, Tues, Wed and Thurs). You can access the rota and add your name at the link below. If you are flexible about times, we need most people on the morning shift, 9-12, and the late afternoon shift, 3.30 – 6.30-7.00. WwQ/edit#gid=1304531884
Communications to students
Please remember to notify students in advance of lecture and class cancellation and urge them to voice their concerns and their support for us by writing to Alistair Jarvis, Chief Executive, Universities UK,
Local hardship fund
We have received a number of enquiries about the possibility of receiving more rapid payments for losses incurred during the strike, from PhD students and other T&S members on very low incomes. If this is your situation please contact Mike Berln


Diary dates
Mon-Thurs 5-8 March
Strikes week 3
Thurs 8 March
International Women’s Day March. Assemble Russell Square, 1.00 pm
Fri 9 March
Union branch meeting, Main Building, 1.00 – 2.00 pm, room tbc.
Mon-Fri 12-16 Mar
Strikes week 4
Join the UCU!
If you have received this bulletin as a non-member, and you are employed at Birkbeck, join the hundreds of colleagues who are already union members and sign up NOW! Just follow this link to the online form and it will take only a few minutes:
General queries - John Kelly
T&S staff queries - Mike Berlin
USS pension queries – Nick Pronger
Picketing – Sophie Hope
FAQs about the strike -
Action Points
 Please circulate this bulletin to all staff in your Dept, using Departmental email lists, to ensure that non-members can read about the dispute and join the union.  Come to the Union Branch meeting, Fri 9 March Main Building, Lower Ground Floor area, 1.00 – 2.00 pm.  Tell your students about the dispute and the strike dates and urge them to write to the Chief Executive of Universities UK, Alistair Jarvis,  Social media: spread news of the dispute through Facebook and Twitter accounts.  Join the picket!
Saturday 3 March 2018