Contract Dispute: June 6th branch meeting and developments since

Dear Member,

At the branch meeting (6.6.13) Julie Kelley (Regional Official) spoke to the branch and put the latest offer from the college. The attached motion and amendments were voted on after questions and discussion.

The substantive motion and the amendment to reject the contract offer and ballot for industrial action were passed. The amendment to accept the offer was defeated.

Amendment to accept: 69 for, 95 against, 5 abstentions.

Amendment to reject: 118 for, 17 against, 4 abstentions.

The substantive motion as amended to reject the offer and ballot for industrial action was carried overwhelmingly.

Further to this branch meeting, the negotiation team met with college management and ACAS. The position of the branch was reported back to the college.

Management responded by withdrawing their latest offer and accusing UCU of acting undemocratically. ACAS suggested that a full e-ballot of all members be undertaken to prevent any accusations, from any party, that members may have been disenfranchised by not being able to attend the branch meeting. Management agreed to keep the current offer on the table if an E ballot was run.

After lengthy discussion and consulting regional and national officers (Barry Lovejoy, Head of FE) the negotiators agreed to ACAS’s proposal. Management and UCU mutually agreed to run an e-ballot in association with ACAS to accept or reject the college offer as presented to the branch meeting to ensure all members have an opportunity to vote on this important issue.

We urge all members to vote in this ballot and in the interests of branch unity to bear in mind the vote taken at the branch meeting.

This E ballot will run next week with a closing date of noon Friday 14th June.

In parallel with the e-ballot, UCU will proceed to ballot for industrial action as voted for in the rejection motion passed at the branch meeting.

The negotiation team

Julie Kelly, Chris Webb, Marie Pacchiarini, Debbie Rolls, Geraint Evans

Motion put to and voted on at the branch meeting

Main Motion

This branch notes:

The overwhelming vote of 91% to reject the contract proposed in May in the consultative ballot.

The improved offer that management have made following this rejection including:

  • A loss of 5 days rather than 10 days holiday (although these days will not be for professional development)
  • A maximum of 25 hours rather than 26 hours teaching time with most staff not being asked to teach more than 24 hours (the 25 hours should be limited to one term but this could be extended in exceptional circumstances.)
  • Guidance to be put in place for the workload agreement and worked examples produced with a review involving UCU after six months of operation (these guidelines are not currently in place.)

Branch welcomes these improvements and believes that it is the best that can be achieved by negotiation. At this stage the branch needs to make a clear decision whether to accept or reject the amended contract. Any further improvements will require a move to industrial action.

Ammendment to accept

Branch notes management’s latest contract offer and that no further improvements are likely through negotiation alone. If this proposal is rejected management are likely to move to issuing a section 188 notice in the near future.

Branch believes that significant improvements have been made on the original contract offer.  Branch negotiators have been informed there are unlikely to be further significant improvements through negotiations and in light of this the branch should accept this offer.

The branch negotiators are instructed to continue to work with senior management to ensure that the introduction of the new contract leads to the least possible detriment to members. This will include being involved in drawing up guidelines for, monitoring and reviewing the application of the workload agreement and new timetables.

This branch does not expect any compulsory redundancies as a result of the proposed contract and the attempt to introduce compulsory redundancies will be met with a move to ballot for industrial action.

Ammendment  to reject

Branch notes management’s latest contract offer.

Branch recognises that no further improvements are likely through negotiation alone.

Nevertheless, Branch recognises that acceptance of this offer would mean:

  • The loss of one week’s holiday;
  • A rise from 777 contact hours pa to 814 in the first year and 828 in the next;
  • Requirement to work 24 hours contact per week (up from 21) for all FT staff and 25 hours for some;
  • No guarantee that 25 hours per week would not be worked permanently by some;
  • Likely consequent job losses of at least 30-40 FTEs;
  • No agreement on Workload Allocation Model, therefore no agreement yet on what will count against class contact time;
  • No acceptance in the offer of 4 weeks minimum unbroken summer leave;
  • Consequent likely increases in workload, staff sickness and absence;
  • Threats to students’ educational experience, staff work/life balance and quality of delivery.
  • Management have not made the case that we should accept a worse contract.

Branch therefore rejects the offer and instructs branch committee to implement the ballot for industrial action. Branch also recognises that management may seek to pressure staff to sign new contracts, perhaps by issuing redundancy threats. In this case branch will organise collective refusal to comply and will campaign for the withdrawal of such threats.


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