Newsletter July 2021

There has been much change in HE this year.  We have lots of updates and lots of new challenges for the coming year.

Pay 2021/22

A “final” pay offer has been received from UCEA after three negotiating meetings. The offer is detailed in a letter from UCEA, but the summary is that a 1.5% consolidated increase is being offered in the grades which are represented by EIS i.e. all points on the scale above point 22. A variated pay offer has been made below point 22, which offers a slightly higher offer in these pay points for the lower paid staff in institutions, however this will not affect EIS members.

The offer is less than inflation is predicted to be for the year (current predictions are 2.5% for RPI), and offers a real terms pay cut on top of last year’s pay freeze.  UCEA also still refuse to convene the Scottish Sub Committee of JNCHES, and no progress has been made in catch up pay for the previous sub-inflationary offers and real terms fall in members pay over the last decade with this current offer.

A consultative ballot has now opened to seek the views of members on whether to reject this pay offer and move to dispute. If you have not received your ballot paper, please contact ballot@eis.org.uk. The consultative ballot closes on 20 th July. Please use your vote!

Should we get a reject return on the ballot, we will lodge a dispute with UCEA and two meetings will then take place in July/August to try and resolve the dispute. Once we have had an outcome from those meetings, we would come back to members with whatever offer is then on the table. However, without significant improvement, it is likely we would still be in dispute and may then move to statutory ballot for action thereafter.

COVID 19

For the last year, EIS have been engaging with government, public health authorities and employers to try to develop mitigations to keep you safe at work during the pandemic. A new “Covid Recovery Group” has now been formed to replace the Ministerial Leadership Group, and it is intended that this group will function more like the CERG group which exists in schools.

This group is formed of employers, civil servants, the new Minister (Jamie Hepburn MSP) and trade unions and it will be actively making strategic, high level decisions. Subgroups will then be formed, including union representation, to work on the specific detailed guidance that will govern the FE and HE sectors from the start, instead of just responding to guidance provided to us, as previously this has often been at the last minute.

Representations have been made to government around not removing physical distancing requirements without clear evidence that it is safe to do so, flexible working arrangements as people ease back into campus life, and setting up vaccination centres on campus for students to access vaccinations easily and quickly. We have also raised the issue of ventilation risk assessments, and other areas of staff safety related to covid including increased workloads and stress. We remain concerned at the possibility of outbreaks of infections when the new term commences.

If you are worried about any covid issue on your campus, please contact your local branch in the first instance or EIS HQ.

You can download the latest Covid Guidance for HE.

You can find a Joint statement between UCEA and the HE trade unions on staff vaccinations

SRUC

Colleagues at SRUC are currently balloting on possible industrial action over an unsatisfactory response to their 2020/21 pay claim. This claim was submitted at the end of 2020, which is later than usual, by agreement between management and the unions. This was because of how unclear the impact of the pandemic would be on SRUC as a rural and hybrid FE/HE organisation.

We submitted a claim which included an annual uplift element, and a request for commitment to the implementation date for a pay and grading review which is long overdue, and has been previously promised. Currently, SRUC’s lecturers earn several thousand pounds less than the FE or HE sector standards, and a new pay and grading structure, based around the HE sector norms is required for fair pay to be achieved at this institution.

So far, management have refused to move on an effective date for implementation of this review and there is no clear timescale for people receiving pay due under the pay and grading review, which has yet to be started.

SRUC members have voted overwhelmingly to move to industrial action at SRUC. Further talks have now been offered to the employer to try and avoid the need to call this action, but should it become necessary, we will use the mandate and call industrial action at this institution.

Please offer your colleagues at SRUC your support on social media by liking their Facebook page (EIS SRUC ULA) and following their Twitter account (ULA@UlaEis) so content on the dispute can be shared. You can email messages of support for your colleagues at SRUC to sleal@eis.org.uk and we will make sure the branch receives those messages.

EIS ULA Statement in Support of UCU Leicester branch

In support of the UCU greylisting at Leicester University in the dispute over compulsory redundancies at that Institution, the EIS-ULA Executive Committee advises its members to show support for their UCU colleagues at the University of Leicester by:

  • not applying for any advertised jobs at Leicester

  • not speaking at or organising academic or other conferences at Leicester

  • not accepting invitations to give lectures at Leicester

  • not accepting positions as visiting professors or researchers at Leicester

  • not writing for any academic journal which is edited at or produced by Leicester

  • not accepting new contracts as external examiners for taught courses at Leicester

  • refusing to collaborate on new research projects with Leicester.

You can read the full statement of support here: EIS-ULA Statement - Leicester University

Branch Visits by ULA President, Vice-President and HE National Officer

Both our new President, Holly Patrick and Vice President, Tom Keegan are keen to take part in one of your Branch Meetings, as am I.

If this is something you would be interested in it would be helpful if you could make any requests for such a visit via your Branch Secretary who can contact EIS HQ to organise dates.

As ever if you have an issue at work that you require advice on, please contact your local branch who can assist you in making sure your case is dealt with promptly and by the right person. Please direct any questions you may have about the content of this newsletter to dshepherd@eis.org.uk

Deborah Shepherd
National Office for HE





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