Newsletter September 2020

Dear Member

It has been a busy time for EIS ULA over the summer. Here are some of the key issues affecting the sector in which EIS ULA have been actively involved.

Pay 2019/20

As you will be aware, despite our five days of strike action earlier this year (and UCU strike action), no improved offer was forthcoming from employers. Unfortunately, thanks to the pandemic, this action could not be continued in order to achieve a better deal.

Events have now taken a negative turn in relation to finances as a result of Covid 19 and a decision has been made by the EIS ULA Executive not to pursue further action for the 19/20 pay round at this time. This effectively closes down the 2019-20 dispute by noting the conclusion of the pay round.

This decision will be deeply disappointing to some of our members, and it was a hard one to reach, but ULA Executive have taken the view that, given the huge financial challenges facing the sector and the threat to job security this brings, that the 19/20 dispute on pay cannot be further progressed.

Pay 2020/21

After submitting a pay claim to New JNCHES in March, management came back with an "offer" of 0% on pay. Further discussion are due to take place in November on what the financial picture actually is (with the understanding that it will be much clearer on an institutional level at that time as students will have in the main started their courses).

However UCEA have only committed to discussing pulling the 2021/22 pay round forward if, the financial picture is better than expected. EIS ULA have noted this offer for the time being and will keep you updated if any improvement can be achieved at any time in the current academic year.

It is not intended to ballot members at this time on pay for 20/21. However all options are open to us in the coming 21/22 pay round and we will be looking for an improved position from UCEA at that time.

Government Funding and Sustainability Review

 The Scottish Government have instructed the Scottish Funding Council to undertake a review of funding, sustainability and cohesiveness of Scottish Further and Higher education. EIS has provided a submission to this review which you can download here.

Guidance on the Reopening of Campuses

At the last minute, the Scottish Government decided to merge guidance documents about the safe opening of campuses and accommodation blocks for the FE & HE sectors, into one document.

We were given limited time to comment on this document but had been involved in writing some of the pre-existing guidance that has been incorporated into this version

They have now also produced a sector advice card which lists all the relevant pieces of guidance for industries which might affect Colleges and Universities. 

There is also a helpful Risk Assessment Tool, which can be found here.

EIS branches and Health and Safety Reps are working hard to ensure Campuses are as safe and Covid secure as possible, but it is not the case that there is zero risk.

Please follow the guidance, wear masks in communal areas, physically distance to at least 2m wherever that is possible and observe good hand hygiene. If you have any specific concerns in your College, please contact your local branch rep without delay.

Napier

Napier have been fighting redundancies at their Institution. There is now suspended collective consultation, while the results of a voluntary severance scheme as processed.

It is hoped that this scheme will have achieved the desired savings without the need for further consultations on compulsory redundancy. Should that prove not to be the case, Napier are preparing to ballot members for industrial action to protect jobs.

UWS

The University of the West of Scotland has a significant issue for our members regarding the  “AULA” online teaching platform. Workload issues, unreasonable demands for roll out to all level 7 modules, recoding of lectures, performance rights, security and the prescriptive nature of the software are all causing concern.

A letter is being sent to the Principal and Chair of Court outlining our concerns and seeking a suspension in the roll out of the software while our concerns are addressed.

If you have any issue at your branch, please contact your branch reps or email me at dshepherd@eis.org.uk

Deborah Shepherd





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