April/May 2024

Dear Member of Solent Branch
Hope you are all doing well and getting ready for Summer.
We held a very robust Branch Executive Committee on Friday 3rd May last, and we wanted to update you on a range of issues and consult with you on a number of key policy initiatives based on feedback from various areas across the University. WE NEED YOUR ONLINE VOTE ON THE RANGE OF QUESTIONS CONTAINED BELOW AT THE END OF THIS EMAIL:
We look forward to seeing you at our next General Meeting of Members coming up this week ONLINE on Friday 17th May from 1-2pm.
A range of important issues have come up that really affect your work conditions (below) and we want your input .  This is the joining link:
Microsoft Teams Need help?
Meeting ID: 380 770 250 894
Passcode: wwqXxG
Summary of Branch work so far:
  • This year we have successfully negotiated with the University to restart ‘Academic Workload Planning’ (AWP) which is a very important collective agreement which the University had unilaterally suspended (The Academic Workload Planning-AWP-document is attached). AWP places very clear parameters on workload and gives us a good baseline to monitor the workloads of each and every member of staff and to keep a close eye on the impact of The Learning Design Framework (i.e. the mix of learning/teaching modes on each module) on individual workload.
  • Under AWP your Research Leave is effectively guaranteed, which is 25 days per year, which you can book through MyView. These research days are provided in-addition to your 35 days of annual leave. I urge you to book and utilise those 25 days of research leave which can be used for updating your skills-base in your teaching area, etc.
  • We have negotiated a cast-iron guarantee that full-time, permanent members of staff cannot be required to teach in Semester 3-the ‘Summer’ semester. I have ensured this guarantee and agreement is minuted in JNCC (the joint negotiating body at Solent between the recognised Unions and The University) offering us further protection from Summer teaching and fully documenting the agreement Branch Committee has put in place with the University.
This year we have really made a big effort to hold regular meetings: This will be our third General Meeting of Members this year. We have held three formal Branch Committee meetings, and we have sent regular Branch Committee communications to you to keep you regularly updated. I have Chaired 3 Joint Consultation meetings (JNCC) between the Recognised Unions on Solent Campus and The University and been successful in enacting a range of policy successes for our Branch which I will outline below. I have attended monthly Joint Staffing Group (JSG) meetings with the University and pushed very hard to protect your interests I will be attending UCU National Congress in Bournemouth at the end of the month and I will do my utmost to bring forward your interests and your issues.
As a Branch Committee we have also reacted to requests from members for UCU representation in a very timely way, with a new 24 hour response time on email-back to you. I have personally represented this year multiple members in grievance and disciplinary investigations. In a recent attempt to fire a staff member for poor performance I was instrumental in the university aborting that process and writing a positive letter of reference for that staff member. We are very proud of these interventions on behalf of our members and colleagues and plan to “keep them coming” on your behalf.
‘Three Pillars’ Academic Promotions:
We have negotiated very hard with the University to improve the safeguards in their proposed promotions policy called “Three Pillars”. Branch Committee do not feel that the University has provided the necessary changes to the document that we feel are important. You will receive an online ballot from the Regional Office  this week so that you can vote whether to accept or reject the ‘Three Pillars’ proposal. Branch Committee strongly urges you to reject this current version of the document. Full details of the finer points and reasons for our recommendation will be sent to you by the Regional Office with the online ballot this week.
Grade 6 Lecturers
At recent Branch Committee meetings Branch Committee has resolved that the current practice by Solent University to hire lecturers at Grade 6 should be opposed. The National Framework Agreement specifies that Lecturers should be hired at Grade 7. At our last General Branch Meeting of Members, UCU Solent Branch agreed to support this new policy put forward by the Branch Committee and henceforth to oppose the hiring of lecturers at Grade 6. Branch Committee thanks you for that support.
Trade Dispute Re: Solent University Services Limited (SUSL)
As you know Solent Branch Committee has opposed the practice introduced last August 1st 2023 by Solent University of hiring new lecturers into Solent University Services Limited without the Teachers Pension Scheme. This Branch Committee has declared a Trade Dispute with the University in this issue and has been negotiating hard to reverse this contractual change.
At our last General Meeting of Members, members supported the current Branch Committee in insisting that the University move our Trade Dispute to Stage II, seeking reversal of SUSL—and we have a further negotiating-meeting with the University on this issue early in June.
Thank you
Steve Desmond
Solent UCU

Dear Solent UCU Member

From: Stephen Or Des Desmond <stephen.desmond@solent.ac.uk>Sent: Wednesday, August 2, 2023 4:16 pmTo: Stephen Or Des Desmond <stephen.desmond@solent.ac.uk>Subject: Dear Solent UCU Member

Dear Solent UCU Member
I hope you are having a good Summer.
Just a preliminary update on a range of issues:
General Meetings
I will be writing to you in early September with dates for regular UCU Solent General Meetings over the coming academic year.
Office Hours for Casework and UCU Info.
Once September starts,  I will be holding weekly online office hours for UCU members who have casework issues, or who need UCU information.
I will send you details Sept. 1st.
My pledge to you is a 24 hour response time when you need to speak with a UCU Rep. regarding any issue you are having at work.
Visiting your Area
Once September kicks in, I will be contacting each staffing group in each distinct area and arranging to come and visit you as a group where you work and teach. I have already been invited to visit Warsash by UCU members there. It will be an opportunity for me to learn more about your area and meet you in person.
I will create a monthly members’ newsletter which will partly focus on these meetings.
From Head Office and The General Secretary
We expect to have further updated information from Head Office in early Sept. regarding current national patterns of industrial action and negotiations. I will be emailing you early September. The General Secretary is seeking agreement with UCEA (the University & College Employers Group) for a package mitigating any salary deductions experienced by UCU members across the UK during the ongoing MAB.
This is the most recent letter from The General Secretary dated August 1st: https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/13126/UCEA-talks-break-down
I am on Annual Leave until August 31st, but have been attending Joint Staffing Group at Solent as Chair of UCU, with the Director of P&D, The Regional UCU Official, The Solent Chair of Unison, and The Deputy Vice-Chancellor. This Thursday we are also meeting with the Provost.
There are a range of proposals from the University that we will be bringing to your attention, and putting forward to the Branch membership for your vote.
This year at Solent we are encouraging as many students and staff as possible to participate in the Southampton Pride Parade with the Solent University group. This year the Southampton Pride Parade is the 26th August. I have stepped in for Kayleigh (Chair of the LGBT+ network) while she is away, and this morning P&D asked me to remind everyone about Southampton Pride and the Solent Walking Group. If you are interested in walking with the Solent University group you can sign up through a link on this Solent University Blog Post: https://staff.solent.ac.uk/news/get-involved-with-southampton-pride
Solent UCU Website:
We have started updating the Solent UCU website:
So, that’s it for now.
Enjoy August!
In solidarity,
Steve D.
Chair Solent UCU
Health & Safety Rep.
Acting Branch Secretary.

Supporting members through the Marking and Assessment Boycott (MAB)

UCU members across the United Kingdom in higher education are now halfway through week three of the marking and assessment boycott (MAB) in the pay and conditions dispute. Universities have responded to legal industrial action by threatening punitive pay deductions of up to 100% [Portsmouth and Winchester 100%Solent University 50%; and Bournemouth 30%]. UCU is working with branches where deductions have been threatened to implement the escalation strategy (no contact with Solent UCU yet) which includes applying pressure through campaigning, negotiation and strike action. UCU announced on Friday, 5 May that the union had agreed to ringfence £250,000 for members facing deductions for taking part in action short of strike. Furthermore, Southern Regional Committee (UCU South) has submitted a late motion to Congress 2023 on Friday, 5 May to ‘lift the cap’.

In Solidarity,
Solent UCU

UCU agrees to pause strike action on pay and pension disputes for two weeks and create a period of calm. 

This means the strikes on Tuesday 21, Wednesday 22 and Thursday 23 February next week and Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 February and Wednesday 1 and Thursday 2 March will not go ahead. All the action scheduled after these dates remains in place – this will put pressure on the employers.


Message from Jo Grady (General Secretary)
“Today we are nearer to reaching the sector defining agreement we need than ever before. But this position has only been delivered because of your support. And we will only get it across the line if you continue to deliver that support.

In practice this means:

  1. Voting YES in the reballot
  2. Encouraging every colleague to vote YES
  3. Asking non-members to join UCU
  4. Be prepared to take the rest of the scheduled action if it is needed
  5. Taking every possible opportunity to pressure the employer.

In closing, we will do everything possible to update you on the progress of the negotiations in the coming days and weeks. That said, it is crucial those talks are seen as secondary to the need to deliver a huge mandate in the reballot.”

Mark Farwell
Chair, Solent UCU

University strikes set to hit 150 UK campuses over pay, conditions & pensions on 24 November 2022

Over 70,000 university staff at 150 universities will strike for three days this month over pay, working conditions and pensions. The National Union of Students (NUS) has backed the strikes, which will be the biggest ever to hit UK universities and could impact 2.5 million students.

UCU said disruption can be avoided if employers act fast and make improved offers. If they don’t, strike action will escalate in the New Year alongside a marking and assessment boycott.

The full strike dates in November are:

  • Thursday 24 November
  • Friday 25 November
  • Wednesday 30 November.

Staff will also begin industrial action short of strike action from Wednesday 23 November, which includes working to rule, refusing to make up work lost as a result of strike action and refusing to cover for absent colleagues.


In Solidarity,
Chair, Solent UCU

Results of the #ucuRISING ballots over USS, and pay & conditions which closed at 5pm on 21 October 2022.

Are you prepared to take industrial action consisting of strike action?

Yes: 81.14%
No: 18.86%
Turnout: 57.71%

Northern Ireland*
Yes: 78.99%
No: 21.01%

Are you prepared to take industrial action consisting of action short of strike action (which for this purpose is defined to include overtime and call-out bans)?

Yes: 88.75%
No: 11.25%
Turnout: 57.71%

Northern Ireland*
Yes: 89.90%
No: 10.10%

UCU Rising: 14 days to go until the ballot closes on Friday, 21 October – Please vote today

At midday today we have only 14 days to go until the national ballot closes on Friday, 21 October 2022. To that end, we (Solent UCU) intend to have 10 days of fairly intensive activity on the Get The Vote Out (GTVO) campaign and will be holding an all-day event on the Andrews Concourse on Wednesday, 12 October from 9am to 5pm. Please feel free to drop by for a chat, updates, giveaways, and to order a replacement ballot.  

If you have not yet received your ballot paper, you can order a replacement paper here or on the Andrews Concourse before midday on Wednesday 12 October – after that it will be too late.    

Please email your GTVO Lead (Paula Elliott, Mark Farwell, Rasitha Galagangodage, Carolyn Potts) once you have voted and returned your ballot paper to Civica Election Services (CES). A big thank you if you have already voted. 

The deadline for posting your ballot paper is Tuesday, 18 October to ensure that the CES is in receipt by Friday, 21 October. 

You can read the latest updates about the UCU Rising campaign here. 

If you have already voted, please click here to report that you have voted  

This will generate a new email. Please do not change the emailjust click on Send. Please note that we do not ask which way you voted, just that you have voted. The only data stored is whether you have responded. 

This data will be used by UCU in accordance with data protection legislation.  

The outcome of the ballot should be known by Monday, 24 October or before. To that end, we have called a Branch meeting/AGM to discuss the outcome of the ballot and next steps on Wednesday, 26 October (time/venue TBC)

In solidarity
Chair, Solent UCU

The Four Fights Ballot closes on Friday, 8 April at 5pm

We are now in the last week of balloting (ballot closes on Friday, 8 April) and for the ballot to count the law (Trade Union Act 2016) requires UCU to achieve a turnout of at least 50% as well as a majority vote in favour of industrial action. UCU is in dispute with Higher Education institutions, including Solent University, about the outcome of the annual national negotiations on pay and conditions.


NB. Please make sure your ballot paper is in the post to CES by Wednesday, 6 April 2022.

Mark Farwell
Chair, Solent UCU

Four Fights: Ballot Opens on Monday, 18 October 2021

UCU will be balloting members in higher education from Monday 18 October to Thursday, 4 November 2021 on the ‘Four Fights’. Solent University members will be balloted on “wages that do not keep up with the cost of living; precarious employment practices; workload intensification; and pay gaps for women and Black and disabled staff. The ballot closes on Thursday 4 November at noon, and if you have any questions please contact me on mark.farwell@solent.ac.uk.

What is UCU fighting against?
What is UCU fighting for?

Call for Get the Vote Out (GVTO) Volunteers
We registered our GTVO plan in September and I am the GTVO Lead for Solent UCU. However, we will need to call on members, as well as reps, branch officers and officials, to ‘get the vote out’ and achieve the necessary 50% turnout threshold (Trade Union Act 2016) to participate in some form of industrial action. Hence, every UCU member has a part to play in winning a mandate by voting and being actively involved in getting the vote out. “Being in a union is more than just putting a cross in a box. It is about standing together with our colleagues and students to defend education and research – both those who provide it and those who rely on it”. We win disputes “by building trust and support for collective action among members in every workplace and every single department. The more staff take part in this action, the sooner you will win and the sooner you can return to work in a sector that is finally starting to value you and your contribution properly” (UCU general secretary, 2021).

The ballot closes on Thursday 4 November at noon.

Best wishes
Chair, Solent UCU