Wor Blog

Vision 2025 and the Emperor’s New Clothes

Last year, your UCU branch published “Alternative Visions for the Future of Northumbria”. This was a newsletter that highlighted the calamitous results of Northumbria’s staff survey, some of the worst known at any university and some of the worst in the entire public sector, inviting you to share your views and to contribute to formulating a constructive alternative. In 2014, only 34% of Northumbria staff felt valued by the University; a majority feared for their job security; 71% felt that there was no culture of mutual respect and collaboration; 73% felt that the University was failing to retain its best people; 80% felt that the University Executive did not listen to or respond to the views of its staff; about half of you were often thinking about leaving; 79% felt that recent changes had been negative; 78% felt that such change was managed badly. The evolution of these “satisfaction” rates painted an eye-watering picture, with most indicators rapidly deteriorating by more than 30 percentual points during the first years of implementation of our current Corporate Strategy.

You can read our “Alternative Visions” document, and contribute to it, here: http://www.ucu-unn.org.uk/images/stories/File/AlternativeVisionsfortheFutureofNorthumbria4.pdf


Can you imagine what would happen if the University had those results in the NSS? Can you imagine what would happen if there was a national league table based on Staff Survey results?

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Members express their concerns about grade 8/9 reviews

Here are some of the concerns members have been sending us about the impact of the grade 8 and grade 9 reviews.


I’ve cried since I heard about this re-structure, every night. It is destabilising the day to day management of our jobs, grade 8s are wobbly and now grade 9s.  No information has been shared about the rationale for or process of this latest delayering, and no notice is being taken of what this is doing to staff mental health. HSE should be investigating the stress caused to staff by this constant change being forced on us. If VS was offered today we would lose a large number of loyal and competent staff just because they are fed up with constant instability and change. There is much literature out there which proves performance related pay does not work and we (grade 9s) don’t want it. Why are we being targeted and not professors? I feel in a real bind – should I leave a job I love (or maybe lose it) or take on 2 jobs (AD and HOD), when I can’t even do one properly just now?'

If you have concerns/fears that you wish to share with members please send them in and we'll post them here...


How many hours a week should academics work?

Chair’s blog No. 6

By Julia Charlton, Branch Chair, Northumbria University

How many hours a week should academics work? How many hours do you work in a week? Many academics feel overworked and exhausted by their jobs. But there is little evidence that long hours lead to better results, while some research suggests that they may even be counterproductive. The research on how long academics work is patchy, but on the whole it shows that scholars are putting in longer hours than the average worker, and certainly more than the 9-to-5 norm that in any case seems to be disappearing from Western workplaces.

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You are paid less - part 5

By Julia Charlton, Branch Chair, Northumbria University

From April 2016 there are legislative changes being introduced that may result in you paying higher National Insurance (NI) contributions. If you are a member of LGPS, TP or USS pension schemes then your National Insurance (NI) contributions will increase from April 2016. As an employee, youpay National Insurancecontributions if you earn more than £155 a week. The amount youpayis 10.6% to12% of your earnings above that limit up to £815 a week (for 2015 to 2016). The rate drops to 2% of your earnings over that amount. So for someone on top SL pay you lose all of your last pay rise and more. Members are telling UCU that the cost of living crisis is having a major impact on their ability to afford to continue in the sector.

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