Wor Blog

You are paid less - part 4

By Julia Charlton, Branch Chair, Northumbria University.

UCU report 'transparency at the top? Senior pay and perks in UK universities, UCU March 2015': http://www.ucu.org.uk/media/pdf/0/0/ucu_transparencyatthetop_mar15.pdf

In January 2014, UCU wrote to business secretary Vince Cable and universities minister David Willetts to highlight the escalation of vice-chancellors' salaries for the academic year of 2012/13 and reminded them of the government's strong words on excessive pay at the top of UK universities.

In response to the letter, David Willetts said universities should be free to set the operation of their remuneration committee as they see fit, and that there were already lists of vice-chancellors' pay in the public domain. However, he did suggest universities may be required to provide a remuneration report as is now the norm in many public and private sector companies.

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You are paid less - part 3

1% and future inflation

I've previously outlined how you have experienced a 15% loss in the real-term value of your pay over five years against inflation, during which time universities' reserves have risen by 58% and their income by 15%. We want to address the issue of inflation again, but instead look ahead to the future. We've seen our pay eroded by inflation, but will that continue?

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Everyone agrees it is vital, valid and desirable that we look in detail at the kinds of teaching and learning we offer on our programmes, especially given the imminent challenges posed by the Teaching Excellence Framework. Current and future students benefit when we do, and so do we, as we get together to have meaningful discussions about how refresh, revise and rethink what it is that makes what we offer so special and valuable. In every discussion UCU have had with university management and HR about this, we have made this very plain. Yet what UCU have also made plain is that unless processes to help us refresh, revise and rethink are workloaded properly, scheduled sensibly, and designed inclusively, there will be problems, for individual staff and for the university as a whole. In fact, without proper workloading, sensible schedules, and inclusive design, PFNA will be counterproductive. Is this the situation we are in now?

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Recruitment week

As you hopefully were aware, 16-20 November was Recruitment Week for our Branch (and the entire national organization). It is probably the busiest week for Recruitment Officers, who are nominally in control of all the events, and I spent much of the week trying (and sometimes failing) to ensure that all the stalls were adequately supplied with promotional material. At Northumbria we had three tables dotted about the campus. At Coach Lane, UCU volunteers were welcomed people entering the main foyer of the Campus. Although the draughts from the doors meant that this position wasn't as comfortable as it might have been, it enabled our volunteers to engage with a large number of staff as they moved around campus. UCU's stall at CCE was slightly more protected from the elements, and enabled volunteers to talk with staff members who were entering the building, heading for the café, or loitering at the building's entrance. Finally, a table outside the refectory in the Ellison Building offered volunteers the chance to meet large numbers of staff as they headed to and from their lunch. Thanks to the generosity of Head Office, we had a large quantity of goodies to give away. The book bags and notepads were extremely popular, although contrary to the prediction of our Health and Safety Officer, the apples we provided were not met with as much enthusiasm as the muffins that were also available.

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