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Branch Meeting – Thursday 11th June 2020

Your UCU Branch Committee has organised a meeting for members on Thursday 11th June at 12.30 pm via zoom and details of the meeting can be obtained via our branch administrator.   It will be an opportunity for the Committee to update members on the outcomes from the Emergency UJCC meeting, provide an update on work matters relating to the Covid-19 pandemic, four fights and USS ballots, and for members to be able to ask questions or raise any concerns they may have.

Suspension of Disciplinary and Capability Processes

The following request for the suspension of disciplinary and capability processes has been communicated to management.


The COVID-19 pandemic is a once-in-a-generation scale crisis for the UK and the University.   At the time of writing, the UK alone has seen over 36,900 deaths from over 261,000 confirmed cases. During times of crisis, our public institutions should try to support people and not compound an already difficult situation. The UCU holds that all university processes with potentially detrimental outcomes for staff should be stopped until the crisis has abated and the university reopens. We welcome the recent confirmation that all compulsory redundancies have been suspended in all areas, but call for this suspension to be extended to all disciplinary and capability procedures currently in progress.
We make this request on humanitarian and practical grounds.  The University of Hull is said to be committed to the values of care, respect and the dignity of the person; its leaders rightly claim that their principal responsibility is to the health and wellbeing of staff and students. In practical terms, the UCU is unable to provide the support our members need to ensure meaningful representation. The personal dynamics that are essential to good communication and shared understanding are compromised in online meeting spaces, especially when high quality and reliable internet connections cannot be guaranteed.

UCU trusts that the university will do the right thing during this crisis when people are juggling commitments to their colleagues, students, families and friends. UCU believes that the University of Hull aims to be a compassionate institution whose leaders demonstrate genuine care for their staff during this difficult period. We think an immediate suspension of the aforementioned procedures would be a significant step towards meeting those aims.

Transformation Update

In our last newsletter, our employer’s reply to our Regional Official about the status of Transformation during the Covid-19 crisis indicated that Transformation would likely continue in some form. This position was updated in the March 26 Update from Vice-Chancellor Professor Susan Lea under HR Update.

The relevant passage is copied below:
“ While we must continue to seek to realise the benefits of our transformation plans, we will review the timings and processes of each project to reflect the immediate circumstances. Project leaders will be in touch with everyone involved in current projects as soon as possible to discuss the next steps.  For those projects which unfortunately indicate a potential for fewer roles, we will suspend all compulsory redundancy processes for the next 12 weeks.  This means that there will be no compulsory redundancies during this period. We will continue to review this position as the wider context evolves.  Whilst the implications of these decisions will require careful consideration and other mitigating actions, we hope that they provide some level of reassurance to colleagues at an otherwise difficult time.”

UCU fully supports the Vice-Chancellor’s message regarding the suspension of all compulsory redundancy processes for the next 12 weeks. It is an active demonstration of the Vice-Chancellor’s commitment to the well-being of staff and students and an acknowledgement of the needs of staff to adapt to an extraordinary situation. Below is UCU’s position on compulsory redundancy processes, which is consistent with the position put forward by the Vice-Chancellor and UCU’s national office.

UCU’s position

Vice-Chancellor’s message:

For those projects which unfortunately indicate a potential for fewer roles, we will suspend all compulsory redundancy processes for the next 12 weeks.” 

UCU’s understanding of a commitment to ‘suspend all compulsory redundancy processes for the next 12 weeks’ is that it covers the following activities:

  • the development of any selection criteria for compulsory redundancy
  • new consultations with individuals or groups of people which may lead to them being placed at risk of voluntary or compulsory redundancy
  • processes of assimilation
  • 1-1 meetings with HOD’s or other line managers about compulsory redundancy
  • issuance of redundancy notices
  • meetings of the Redundancy Committee
  • service re-design involving restructuring which may lead to compulsory redundancy

Additionally, we recognize that many people are in different stages of ‘voluntary’ severance from the University and we do not wish to interrupt any such processes which are underway. But we are working in conditions of lockdown where the ability to fully engage in consultation (either over your job or your settlement and with your advisers or representatives) may be reduced. For this reason. we’d like all deadlines for current voluntary severance schemes extended, with agreement of the member, (to a closing date past the end of lockdown) to allow people time to seek the necessary advice on pensions, payment, legal advice and their rights following severance.

Please do get in touch if there are any queries about your personal circumstances. A general position does not cover all individual circumstances and we have caseworkers ready to help, albeit remotely.

Annual Leave

The University released information on annual leave in the April 3 Update from Vice-Chancellor Professor Susan Lea.

In summary: The University encourages staff to take leave as taking some time from work is just as important in the context of remote working as it is when working on campus. It is important to note that if leave is cancelled during the lockdown period, staff are considered available for work as they would under normal circumstances. In addition, carry over for holiday entitlements will only be apply to key workers (e.g. Clinical academics), consistent with government policy on statutory leave. The University expects that the majority of staff will be able to take their annual leave in accordance with the existing policy on leave.

Some members have contacted UCU concerned that they have no time to take annual leave due to the pressure of workload associated with moving to online delivery and changes to assessment submission dates. Also, additional pressures from caring responsibilities have put pressure on staff to spread work over longer time periods. UCU will raise these concerns with management this week.  Please note that Trade Unions were not consulted on either holiday leave in the context of current epidemic, or absence reporting. This was due to the University’s need to act quickly. Please do get in touch, if you have concerns and we will bring them to the attention of management. Also, remember to let your manager know if you are experiencing difficulties.

Changes to Work Practices and Covid 19

Process for Dispute Resolution with University Management

At today’s General Meeting, Mary-Ellen referred to the process that must be followed to progress disputes with University management.  This is a link to the UCU information on this process.

General Meeting Wed 12th at 1PM Wilb LR13

University of Hull Branch – General Meeting

 Wednesday 12 February at 1:00 pmWilberforce LR13


  1. Apologies
  2. Agree Minutes from the Emergency General Meeting 11/12/19
  3. Matters Arising from the minutes of 11/12/19
  4. University Finances
  5. Redundancy selection/assimilation panels

  6. Advice surgeries

  7. Any other Business

Dispute Q&A with UCU General Secretary

After reballoting, 12 further institutions are joining the ongoing industrial action on pensions and the “four fights”.  A further 14 days of industrial action have been planned.

The University of Hull UCU Branch chose not to be reballoted and so will NOT be participating in this action.

Facebook Live Q&A

UCU General Secretary, Jo Grady, will be running a Facebook Live Q&A on Thursday 13 February from 1pm to 2pm. The Q&A will be open to all members. My last Q&A received 3,300 views and I am hoping to answer a wide range of questions from as many members as possible about the disputes, developments in negotiations, and the planned action.

The live stream will be available on the UCU Facebook page and it will continue to be available for viewing after the session has ended. Members do not need a Facebook login to view it. Questions can be submitted via Facebook or to this email address, either in advance or during the session. Members’ questions will be read out during the Q&A but any sensitive personal data will be anonymised unless the member specifies otherwise.

UCU Surgery – Thursday 23 January 2020

There are still spaces at the UCU surgery for members who wish to discuss issues affecting them.  In the meeting we aim to deal with questions and try to give guidance where possible on relevant subjects.  More substantial issues will be allocated a caseworker and dealt with separately.  Initially, we aim to run two parallel sessions in the UCU offices (57 Salmon Grove) from 2 – 4 pm at 15 min intervals, on Thursday 23rd January 2020.  To make an appointment please contact Vicky Cattini ( in the first instance.

FoSE member’s Meeting: Wed. 10AM BRY-TR3

UCU have arranged a meeting at 10:00 am on Wednesday 22nd January for members in the Faculty of Science and Engineering. The meeting will be in Brynmor Jones – Teaching Room 3. We anticipate the meeting will last about an hour but have booked the room for two hours to allow sufficient time for discussion.

The meeting has been arranged to discuss divestment and restructuring in FOSE. Issues which may be discussed are concerns over workload, redundancy and redundancy protection, processes of review in individual departments and Transforming Programmes as well as issues that members may wish to raise.

UCU would also like to discuss building a network of Departmental representatives on FOSE which may help communication across the Union. This may be particularly important at the moment given the challenges we are collectively facing.

The intention of the meeting is not simply for ‘the Union’ to brief members about what is going on although there will be a briefing from UCU reps which will inform members about the current situation (as we understand it). But, UCU committee believe that the members are the Union and our job as representatives is to take instruction from members on how you want to be represented. Your contributions are therefore vital and there will be time for open discussion.

A written report will be circulated following the meeting so that any member unable to attend can be informed of any outcomes.


Martin Nickson

On behalf of the local UCU Branch Committee