Press coverage of Kingston UCU on strike 1-3rd December 2021

Regular strike updates are being posted on twitter and instagram – thanks to everyone for their support!

The River scooped the story of the UCU strike at Kingston with an article by Diego Evrard-Broquet. We’ve had some great conversations at the picket lines with other River writers, showing the strength and quality of teaching in the Department of Journalism, Publishing and Media despite job cuts this summer that have seen staff workloads increase.

Fantastic support from students was evident in a report by James Mayer for MyLondon: ‘London university students support lecturer strikes but say tuition fees are wasted’

Response to Email from HR Director & Strike Update

  1. Response to email from Emily Boynton

29th November staff received an email from Emily Boynton, the current HR Director, on the topic of our upcoming actions (strike and ASOS).

The first thing to note is that you are under no obligation to complete the online form to let the university know that you are intending to take industrial action. The detail on pension contributions in the email is irrelevant and misleading. This is discussed explicitly in the UCU dispute FAQs:

Do I have to tell my employer that I am taking industrial action?

No. It is often the case that management will send out emails/letters demanding that you declare in advance whether you will be taking industrial action. This can have the effect of misleading and intimidating members, and will enable your employer to minimise any disruption. You are under no obligation to inform management in advance as to whether you will be taking part in strike action or action short of a strike. UCU will provide your employer with all the information about the action required by law including those categories of members who we are calling on to take action. Once you are back to work following the strike action, you should respond truthfully to any query from your employer as to whether you have taken or are taking industrial action. You should not, however, respond to any such query while you are on strike.

The online form circulated by Boynton also requests that we let the university know whether we will be participating in ASOS by working our contracted hours. The university should expect that all staff – UCU members and non-members – are working their contracted hours, except in exceptional circumstances. Consequently, we should not declare our intentions to participate in ASOS either as it can be seen as a reasonable and legally-justified means of ensuring our wellbeing and work-life balance.

  1. Petition for all strike deductions from salaries to be donated to student hardship fund

We will request that all strike deductions from salaries will be donated to the student hardship fund at Kingston University. LSE has already responded favourably to a response from its own local UCU branch. Therefore we are optimistic that our management will take a similar approach.

  1. Haven’t booked your picket slot yet? 

We are expecting all members to sign up to at least one three hour slot. Check inboxes for the link to the signup.If you can’t join us physically, please join us on the digital picket line this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, from 10-11am at this link.

On strike days, we will have rallying points at the front of Penrhyn Road and the front of Knight’s Park at 10am and 1230pm so please do join us at either of those locations at those times.

  1. ASOS guidance

Action short of strike (working to contract) begins on December 1st. UCU central are putting on a series of briefings about ASOS and what it means in practice this week. Please see email from Jo Grady (29th November) for the sign-up links. The branch will circulate further guidance on ASOS in the coming days.

Strike action starts next week

Members can find all the key information and resources on Kingston UCU linktree –  including strike explainer documents which you can share with your students, social media graphics etc.

There is a useful FAQs about taking strike action on the UCU website.

Check inboxes for links to sign up to pickets – see you on the picket line!

Kingston UCU members to strike 1st -3rd December, followed by action short of a strike

Kingston UCU met the 60% turnout threshold on a national ballot over the ‘four fights’, with a majority of those who voted endorsing both strike action and action short of strike (ASOS). Because we met the minimum 50% turnout required, we now have a legal mandate to do both of these things.
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Following discussion at the branch meeting on 10th November, the branch Chair and Vice-Chair fed back the views of Kingston UCU members to the national branch delegates meeting. Following this, a decision by was taken by UCU national to instruct its members to:
  • Undertake 3 days of strike action between Wednesday 1st and Friday 3rd December
  • Commence ASOS (working to contract) from December 1st
Kingston UCU will be participating in both of these actions. Branch meetings will take place on Wednesday 24th at 1pm or 7pm to discuss how the branch will manage both strike action and ASOS.

Four Fights ballot result: Kingston staff vote for industrial action

Our branch has achieved a phenomenal 60% turnout in the national Four Fights ballot over over unsafe workloads, casualisation, pay deflation, and the gender, ethnicity and disability pay gaps. This was in spite of the incredibly short ballot period and issues with missing ballot papers, and is a huge increase on our turnout of 32% in the last ballot in 2019.
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92% of members endorsed some form of action, with 70% voting in favour of strike action and 92% in favour of action short of strike.
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We will be talking through what this means at our branch meeting Wednesday 10th November 1-3pm on Zoom, with our discussion feeding into a national delegates meeting before the UCU Higher Education Committee convenes on Friday 12th. Please come along if you can. Check inboxes for links.
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Thank you to everyone who voted and all those departmental contacts and activists who helped out with the Get the Vote Out campaign

Updates on Four Fights dispute ballot

Ballots have gone out and should be returned as soon as possible. To order a replacement ballot use this online ballot replacement request form. You must order your replacement by 5pm Thursday 28th October.

Members of the Kingston UCU branch committee have made a video explainer about how the Four Fights on pay and conditions relate to the situation staff face at Kingston.

We’ve also been posting about each of the Four Fights and why #KingstonStaffHaveHadEnough on twitter and instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve had great support from Kingston students, who have produced their own posters. We’ve also made a flyer explaining the dispute to students that can be shared.

To help us get the vote out at Kingston and pass the legal threshold of 50%+ members voting, please

If you have questions about either the ballot or the Four Fights dispute, please Contact Us and / or see these FAQs:

Ballot on industrial action over Four Fights dispute opens

Kingston UCU members will be balloted from Monday 18th October to Thursday 4th November on the Four Fights dispute over unsafe workloads, casualisation, pay deflation, and the gender, ethnicity and disability pay gaps.

See here for more information about what the dispute is about and how these issues relate to staff at Kingston.

See here for details of how to cast your vote and why it is so important (we need 50% of the membership to vote for it to count!)

We will contacting members to remind them to vote and answer any questions they have. Contact us or talk to a member of the branch committee in your faculty.

Help get the vote out and make it count! Talk to members in your department about the dispute and remind them to vote. Download posters here and put them up in your office.

We are at breaking point.

Vote YES and send the message to management: Kingston staff have had enough

 

Kingston UCU members on USS pension scheme – update

Some updates from branch committee member Claudia Uller about USS pensions:

So far, negotiations between Kingston University, USS and UCU are still taking place, and very few decisions have been taken. They are going back and forth and HR/Payroll have little information.

HOWEVER, there is some good news. Our initial planned increase in contribution as of October 2021 went down from 11% to 9.8%, which is only 0.2% above what we were contributing up until now. This is the pressure of UCU on universities and USS!

So far, we can all stay with USS. The Senior Management Team, who leads these discussions, have not taken any decision to end the USS Scheme at KU. When they do take a decision, we will be informed. There will be 2 options. First, you will be offered to keep your accrued value with USS, and join TPS as the new pension provider. Or you will be offered to transfer the amount of pension value into TPS. However, because these schemes are not identical type schemes [USS is no longer in the advance transfer club], it is not a simple matter of transferring the accrued value into TPS. TPS will evaluate how much service within USS has been accrued and offer a transfer value. It will be up to us to decide which [1 or 2] would be more beneficial.

In a nutshell – if you wish to keep USS until the SMT make a decision, you can.  We are 34 KU staff in the USS pension scheme, but only a handful got back to me. If you know anyone else with USS, please let them know!

Branch Newsletter: October 2021

The latest Kingston UCU branch newsletter is available with updates on:

  • Upcoming ballot on industrial action over pay, conditions and equality
  • How the dispute relates to issues faced at Kingston
  • Health & Safety and return to campus
  • Why Kingston Politics courses must be reopened, and other issues.

Kingston UCU newsletter October 2021

Please get in touch with any responses, feedback or items for future newsletters.