Sometimes working in HE can seem like an endless onslaught of bad news: pensions, pay, restructures, redundancies, workload, casualisation, discrimination, outsourcing - and all in the context of a global pandemic.
It’s all too easy to feel powerless as staff and as union members.
That’s why it’s important to celebrate our victories - especially when they come as a result of collective action and the hard work of branch reps and ordinary members.
We’re still nailing down the final details, but we’re hopeful that senior management will shortly confirm that there will be NO compulsory redundancies as part of the Size and Shape programme.
We all know that the financial ambitions motivating Size and Shape created the conditions for colleagues, many of whom UCU members, to take Voluntary Severance in three recent rounds. We acknowledge the difficulties for any colleague deciding to take VS, and the impact on remaining colleagues, and as a branch we remain insistent that no jobs need be lost at our institution, whose finances are sound.
It is crucial, then, to recognise that the avoidance of compulsory job losses at Sussex is a consequence not of a new financial landscape but of our own determined collective action, specifically because you:
Voted overwhelmingly to enter into dispute with the University
Refused to accept management’s attempts to merely postpone the job cuts
Voted in the indicative ballot to take strike action
Lobbied your Heads of School
Made reasonable and passionate arguments through Size & Shape Town Halls
Attended the grassroots Size and Shape Forums which culminated in a hugely well attended forum highlighting the great benefits of cross-School working and which was attended by and clearly impressed senior members of UEG.
We stopped these cuts, and we should not only be proud of that, but should also draw optimism from it for the future.
We are now about to be consulted as UCU members on further industrial action over pensions, pay, workloads, casualisation and discrimination. You can give your views here (deadline: 4pm this Monday 17 Jan).
The temptation we have all felt is to be worn down - to feel like there is nothing we can do, and that taking action is pointless. Size and Shape has shown us that the opposite is true - we stood firm, and ‘inevitable’ cuts have been reversed.
If we do the same on a national level, we can achieve the same results and transform our universities and working lives for the better.
If we stay united we can win - and that means taking everybody with us. That’s why we need your feedback in advance of next Tuesday’s crucial Branch Delegates Meeting on the next stage of the USS/4 Fights dispute - please complete this super short form here (deadline 4pm this Monday 17 Jan)!
And, finally, as we approach the beginning of another term in the face of the pandemic, we’d be especially grateful if you could also complete this short survey designed to help our negotiators push for safe teaching conditions.
Together, the two surveys (your views on Industrial Action and your views on Teaching this Term) should take no longer than 15 mins to complete.
Solidarity as always
UCU Sussex Exec and Reps