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