Higher Education Bulletin Issue 19 – October 2006

  • Amicus and DTI launch the world’s largest anti-bullying project
  • Amicus at the TUC and Labour Party conferences
  • New TUC president – University administrator
  • NUS and the TUC report highlights the problems facing working students
  • Student Recruitment – Freshers fairs upon us
  • HEPI report predicts income growth in English Universities
  • HESDA training for technicians
  • “Everything you wanted to know about grading appeals but are afraid to ask!” – New Amicus Training course for senior reps
  • TUC ‘One in Five’ campaign on vulnerable workers
  • TUC launches new environmental guide
  • New OECD report compares education systems in different countries

Amicus and DTI launch the world’s largest anti-bullying project
Employers must take a zero tolerance approach to bullying says Amicus during the launch of the world’s largest anti-workplace bullying project. In a poll conducted by Amicus, as part of the project, it was found that only 2% of employers took a zero tolerance approach to bullying. 97% of organisations have never quantified the impact of bullying. And 80% of organisations have an anti-bullying policy in place but despite this more than half of those polled still think bullying is an issue in their organisation. Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, The Rt Hon. Alistair Darling MP, Amicus General Secretary, Derek Simpson and Clive Ansell, Group Strategy Director at BT will reveal the findings of the joint Amicus and DTI, Dignity at Work Partnership research. They are urging businesses to take a zero tolerance approach to bullying in the workplace. Amicus General Secretary, Derek Simpson said: “Bullying in the workplace can destroy people’s lives. Our project aims to tackle this problem in partnership with employers by taking a zero tolerance approach to bullying from the outset.” For more information on the Amicus research click here

Amicus at the TUC and Labour Party conferences
Amicus again made a big impact at this years TUC and Labour party conferences. Amicus delegates raised important issues at both conference including pensions, council housing, learning and skills, bullying, the health service, the problems facing British manufacturing and implementation of the Warwick agreement. At both conferences Amicus general secretary Derek Simpson made it very clear that the Labour party needed to do more to honour the Warwick agreement made with the unions before the last general election. Derek moved motions on new Bank holiday legislation as well as employment rights for vulnerable worker such as exploited foreign workers like the tragic Morecambe Bay cockle pickers and workers who had to take jobs on temporary and short-term contracts. The general secretary called on the Labour Party NEC and the government to embrace the Warwick agreement in full. “We want employment rights from day one and we want equal treatment from day one. Workers have this in many EU countries – we should have these rights here too.”
For Amicus news from Labour Party conference click here.

For Amicus news at the TUC click here.

New TUC president –University administrator
Earlier this month the TUC elected Alison Shepherd as the next TUC President. Alison is an administrator from Middlesex University Alison promised to “fight for the issues that matter to higher education staff. The number one concern is still job security.” She went on to say that “both sides realise now that everyone benefits from strong, capable unions in the workplace, the best universities prove that this is the case.”

NUS and the TUC report highlights the problems facing working students
“All work and low pay: the growth of UK student employment” a new document jointly by the TUC and NUS shows the problems facing working students. The report says that in the past ten years the number of full-time students who are working has risen dramatically, from 406,880 in 1996 to 630,718 in 2006 – an increase of 54 per cent. Students from poorer backgrounds are more likely to be forced to work to support themselves than friends from more affluent backgrounds. Some 55 per cent of young people from managerial and professional backgrounds work, but the figure rises to 61 per cent for those from manual backgrounds. To read the report on the TUC website click here.

Student Recruitment -Freshers fairs upon us

The university freshers fairs have started and Amicus has already begun to recruitment students in many universities. National Officer, Mike Robinson said “if we are to guarantee future generations of committed union members we have to engage with those people newly entering the world of work. University is a perfect place to introduce young people to the value of collective bargaining and the possibilities that union membership can bring.” Amicus has already built up good relationships with university groups in Leicester and Birmingham University as well as with NUS officers. But more can be done. If you are interested in helping to recruit student members contact Vera Titmus at the Coventry office. Recruitment packs, posters and further supplies are available from Mike’s office and also all local regional offices. For more information on Amicus’ work with students click here

HEPI report predicts income growth in English Universities
The Higher Education Policy Institute this month published a report that predicts strong income growth for English universities of all types up until 2010-11. That increase is estimated at £5.4 billion per year in real terms (equivalent to 39 per cent). HEPI estimates that between 60 and 80 per cent of the increased income will be absorbed by currently identifiable factors, such as staff salaries and possible increased pension contributions, but that this still leaves a sizable sum for other uses. To see the full report please visit the HEPI website

HESDA training for technicians
Amicus has been negotiating the adoption of HESDA training courses for technicians with UCEA. HESDA (The Higher Education Staff Development Agency) offer a wide range of training courses covering subjects from workplace skills and development to specific courses on scientific processes. For more information on the HESDA Technical Skill Development project visit: http://www.hesda.org.uk/subjects/sd/technical.html

“Everything you wanted to know about grading appeals but are afraid to ask!”
New Amicus Training course for senior reps. Amicus has developed a new training course for senior reps to take place on 7-8 November 2006 at Wortley Hall Sheffield. The course will help senior reps learn more about grading appeals and develop the skills to successfully handle them. There is limited availability for the course and it will only be open to senior reps. Next years programmes is being formulated and is expected to concentrate on getting the local Framework Agreements MOT’d. What did you miss that other HEI’s have achieved? How can you build in changes to the existing agreements. What are the best arrangements for rewarding and developing staff and is your contribution point system equality proofed? These issues will be covered in the new year. For more information please contact Vera Titmus

TUC ‘One in Five’ campaign on vulnerable workers
Launched during the TUC conference, “ The Hidden One-in-Five: Winning a Fair Deal for Britain ‘s Vulnerable Workers ” report sets out some long term strategy ideas for tackling vulnerable work in the UK. The report uses official statistics to show that around 5.3 million workers earn below one third of the median hourly wage and do not have a trade union to negotiate their terms and conditions, and are therefore vulnerable to exploitation. Looking at the work rights of migrant workers, agency staff, home workers and illegal workers the report offers a damning picture of Britain ‘s labour laws. For more info go to: http://www.tuc.org.uk/welfare/tuc-12380-f0.cfm

TUC launches new environmental guide
The TUC have launched a new guide for greening the workplace. ‘First steps to a greener workplace’ aims to give trade unionists some of the tools to tackle climate change in the workplace. As the website says: “Making workplaces sustainable is the key to making jobs sustainable. The challenge of climate change is also an opportunity to engage with the young, who are particularly aware of the threat it poses. Trade unionists have a special insight into the battle against climate change. We understand the power of collective action. Individuals can best tackle climate change when working together.” To read the document click here.

Also don’t forget the TUC Green Work course aiming to build union capacity to tackle energy and climate change issues at work. For more information please see: http://www.unionlearn.org.uk/education/learn-796-f0.cfm

New OECD report compares education systems in different countries
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has published a new report of Education at a Glance 2006 (EAG) which provides information and data on key areas of different countries education system based on data from 2003/04. The report shows increases in investment and success in both the UK and Ireland . Between 1998 and 2004 both countries have seen improvements in their education policies and in many areas are above the OECD average, for example in funding and attainment levels. However the report is also critical, for example the OECD found that 1 in 10 teenagers in Ireland weren’t attending school, while the UK is making slow progress in getting teenagers into higher education. The report also highlights the fact that competition from other parts of the world such as East Asia , is putting pressure on European governments to maintain their position as leading educational performers. To read the full report click here.

This e-bulletin has been produced by James Lazou, Research Officer for the Higher Education sector. If you have any news items or stories you would like included in the bulletin please contact James.

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