Higher Education E Bulletin-Issue 22 Feb 07

  • Amicus and TGWU Merger Ballot – Support the Merger
  • New guidance on Job evaluation and salary regrading uplifts
  • Job Evaluation data for workplace representatives
  • JNCHES Regional Seminars – Working Successfully with Trade Unions on Difficult Issues’
  • Valuing Public Services
  • Save ESOL Campaign
  • Greening workplace course
  • Work Your Proper Hours Day! Friday 23rd February 2007
  • Stress and Management failings in the Education sector
  • Irish university investment increasing – employers and academics want higher pay
  • Amicus Solidarity action Zimbabwe women arrested for salaries protest
  • Economic Partnership Agreements: a Threat to workers TUC report
  • European Trade Union Congress Public Services Petition

Amicus and TGWU Merger Ballot – Support the Merger

The members’ ballot on the merger with the TGWU has opened this month. Amicus’ NEC has overwhelmingly voted to support the merger and Amicus is therefore urging you to vote YES in the ballot. Amicus National Officer Mike Robinson said “the merger will have a clear benefit to our members in the higher education sector and can only enhance our clout as the representative of support staff in the higher education sector.” The ballot will be conducted by ERS Ltd and all members who joined Amicus up to and including 31st January 2007 will be entitled to vote in the ballot.

A telephone line for members to call if they do not receive a ballot paper has been set up:

  • 0845 850 4242 in the UK
  • 1890 946 241 in the Republic of Ireland .

NB. Members should wait until around 16th February to receive their ballot papers before calling the helpline. The ballot will close on Wednesday 7th March and all ballot papers must be received by ERS by this time. The result of the ballot will be communicated as soon as possible after this date.

New guidance on Job evaluation and salary regrading uplifts
The process of job evaluation for staff working in Higher Education is now well advanced. Some colleagues will have already been regraded and others are due to follow shortly. For those staff that have been regraded above their original salary level or for staff who believe they should have been regraded above their existing salary Amicus has some important information that members should take careful note. Some staff may have the potential to bring equal pay claims. In some cases members may be able to pursue claims for back pay for up to six years. Potential claims may be ongoing whilst members remain in their existing posts.

Please read new guidance on the issue from Amicus National Officer Mike Robinson.

Job Evaluation data for workplace representatives

Amicus workplace representatives now have access to a significant amount of comparative data on job evaluation deals, draft deals and pay grades. To access this information reps will have to register on the Amicus website in the my amicus section. The information will then appear under the Job Evaluation section of the Education Sector website.

Click here for the job evaluation page on the Education Sector website:

Click here to sign into My Amicus:

JNCHES Regional Seminars – Working Successfully with Trade Unions on Difficult Issues’
UCEA are delivering a programme of fully funded, regionally delivered experiential learning seminars entitled Working Successfully with Trade Unions on Difficult Issues’. The seminars will be jointly attended by university managers and staff, and regional and local trade union representatives.

The seminars are due to take place on the following dates:

  • Manchester 15 March
  • Glasgow 26 March
  • London 3 April
  • Bristol 12 April
  • Nottingham 25 April

If reps want to attend the seminars but have not been advised by their local HR please let Vera Titmus know as quickly as possible and Amicus will make a separate application to UCEA.

For more information on the seminars please click here:

These seminars are part of the JNCHES partnerships project. See here for more information:

Valuing Public Services
Last month Amicus moved its Valuing Public Services campaign up a gear. With probably the biggest turn out of any union during the TUC lobby of parliament and a new campaign document launched, Amicus is hammering the message home that what public services need is to be valued. Within the campaign Amicus highlights the problems facing members in the Education sector and the commercialisation of the education system. Amicus argues that all employees involved in delivering public services should be valued and treated with respect. Amicus National Officer Mike Robinson commented that the higher education sector has seen a significant growth over the last few years but if this growth is to be sustainable it has to include better investment in the staff that work there.

Read the Amicus campaign briefing Valuing Public Services.

Read more about the Lobby of parliament.

Visit the campaign page on the public services website.

Sign the European TUC petition on public services.

Save ESOL Campaign
Amicus has signed up to the growing campaign to stop new funding restrictions on English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses.

The proposed changes include:

  • existing universal entitlement to free ESOL training up to level 2 removed
  • fee remission available only to people receiving means-tested benefits and tax credits
  • asylum seekers aged 19+ no longer automatically eligible for publicly funded FE provision from 2007/08.

Take-up of ESOL has risen in recent years and in many cases demand exceeds supply. The changes to ESOL funding mean that for many people with ESOL needs, the cost of paying for courses will shift from the public purse to individuals, unless employers make a contribution. The government thinks employers and migrant worker agencies should pay but there is no mechanism in place to ensure they do. Amicus National Officer Mike Robinson said the ability to read, write and speak English is an essential basic skill for all workers in the UK . Removing access to these courses is yet another blow to low paid and vulnerable migrant workers struggling to make a living.

Read the early day motion on the issue:

Greening workplace course
The Spring programme of Trade Union & Environment Courses has been announced, with free (to TU members) 3-day courses running in London (3 courses), Newcastle and Exeter between February to April – for further details, and to book a place click here.

Work Your Proper Hours Day! Friday 23rd February 2007
Britons put in £23 billion of unpaid overtime a year. Employees in the UK who do unpaid overtime do an average of seven hours six minutes extra work a week, and would take home an extra £4,800 a year if they were paid the average wage for those unpaid hours, according to analysis of official statistics published by the TUC. If everyone in the UK who works unpaid overtime did all their unpaid work at the start of the year, the first day they would get paid would be Friday 23 February. That is why Amicus in conjunction with the TUC has declared 23rd February ‘Work Your Proper Hours Day’. Employees should use this day to remind bosses of their extra unpaid work by taking a proper lunch break and going home on time for this one day a year. Employers should also use the day to say thank you to staff for their unpaid work, perhaps by buying them lunch or an after-work coffee or cocktail.

For more information about the campaign see:

Stress and Management failings in the Education sector
High levels of stress are widespread amongst staff throughout further and higher education and staff widely believe that management – far from addressing the issue – are contributing to the problem. A survey of 5,000 staff in England , Wales and Northern Ireland for the University and Colleges Union (UCU) and teaching union ATL received over 1,000 responses. The main sources of work-related stress were clearly linked to targets and deadlines, long working hours, increased workloads and frequent changes of timetables or courses. Not being able to exert control over demands made and being given responsibility without the authority to take decisions also scored highly, as did feeling undervalued and lack of administrative support. A ‘massive’ 82 per cent of respondents reported their overall workloads had increased in the last three years. The same proportion felt this had directly or indirectly increased stress levels.

Irish university investment increasing – employers and academics want higher pay
Irish university budgets have more than doubled in the past few years. Total spending in 1998/99 by the seven universities was €663m, which included €83.4m for research, but this had increased to €1,411m by the academic year 2004/2005, of which €239.38m was for research. A document arguing for increased pay for university heads reveals that over 80% of the money still comes from the State. However, universities are increasingly turning to other sources of funding, including research grants, overseas students and private donations. The submission from the Irish University Association to the Higher Renumeration Body reveals that enrolments have increased by 25%, with greater diversity in the student body. This report has led to both employers and academics to demand pay increases. Amicus National Officer Mike Robinson commented that if there is more money around it should go into pay increases for all university staff especially those at the bottom of the pay scale not just those who earn the most.

See here for university heads demands:

See here for academics demands:

Amicus Solidarity action Zimbabwe women arrested for salaries protest
22 women were arrested on 15 January 2007 in Shurugwi for protesting against the poor salaries of their husbands working at ZIMASCO Mine, in the Midlands region of Zimbabwe . Some of the women protesting had babies and some were pregnant. They spent the whole night in cells and were charged for illegally demonstrating in public. They were finally released on the 16th of January 2007 after payment of $5 000 each as fine. This information has been received from Amicus’ sister unions from the ZCTU Central Regional Office and Mr. Gibson Chauke Associated Mine Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe Branch official, Shurugwi, ZIMASCO Company. Amicus would urge you to take action by contacting the Zanu-PF Government and the Zimbabwean Ambassador to the UK , Gabriel Machinga, protesting at the appalling treatment of these women. A draft letter to the Zimbabwean Government can be found here. Either print out (if faxing) or copy and paste (if emailing) this message and send it to the details provided below. If you would like to find out more about the Dignity! Period campaign which is sending sanitary ware to the women in Zimbabwe see here:

Economic Partnership Agreements: a Threat to workers TUC report
The TUC has released a new international campaign document in conjunction with Action for Southern Action and Trade Craft. The briefing – New Deals, New Danger, EPAs: a Threat to workers – focuses on the new trade deals being negotiated between the European Union and 75 poor countries in Africa , the Caribbean and the Pacific. Most of these countries are former colonies and the group includes 39 out of 46 of the world’s least developed countries. The result of the deals could be devastating leading to massive job losses, deteriorating working conditions, reduced spending on health and education as revenues slump for developing country governments. Read the report here:

European Trade Union Congress Public Services Petition
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has launched a campaign to secure a million signatures across the EU supporting a Directive on public services, to follow up the successful campaign against the EU Services Directive. The practical effect of such a Directive would be to confer on Member States the power to protect their public services from general requirements to liberalise such services, which often leads to privatisation. The petition is mostly designed as an online petition with materials (including a print-version of the petition and background information on public services) available in English 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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