Monday, February 26Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Tag: UCU

One More UCU Strike…
Features, News, Opinion

One More UCU Strike…

How effective is the Strike action in creating the change it seeks? An Interview with James Smith The end of March will see the disappearance of professors from classrooms once again. Not because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but because of industrial strike action from the UCU (University and College Union). As a third-year student my university experience has been impacted by both the strikes and COVID resulting in an unexpected minimal amount of time spent on campus. In my first year there were extensive strikes which some students joined in on. Then COVID struck in March, disrupting the entirety of that year. Now, we are partly back to campus with both covid and strikes interrupting simultaneously. Professor James Smith, the UCU representative within the English department here at...
UCU Announces 8 Day Strike Affecting 60 Universities
News

UCU Announces 8 Day Strike Affecting 60 Universities

Two days ago the day this article was written the University and College Union announced eight days of strike starting this month, which will affect 60 universities across the country including Royal Holloway. The strike will take action between Monday 25th of November to Wednesday 4th of December. The action has been called in response to concerns regarding member contributions to the USS pension scheme, pay and conditions. There have been talks which could indicate the dispute could be resolved without industrial action, however this so far seems unlikely. Last week UCU members backed strike action in two separate legal disputes, one on pensions and one on pay and working conditions. Overall, 79% of UCU members voted for strike action in the ballot over changes to pensions. In the ball...
Continued Suspension of Royal Holloway UCU Equality Officer, Jeff Franks
News

Continued Suspension of Royal Holloway UCU Equality Officer, Jeff Franks

Jeff Franks, a Professor in the Economics Department here at RHUL, has been suspended since April 11 2018 and continues to be restricted from contacting students or coming onto campus. He has been suspended on the grounds of leaking confidential and sensitive information, violating the recently implemented GDPR and privacy practices, as well as violating the College Grievance Policy. According to a document Orbital Magazine has access to, the college’s suspension of Franks “is deemed appropriate because… continued presence at work may inhibit the investigation in connection with the allegations” against him. Franks is the Equality Officer for the Royal Holloway branch of the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) and was supportive of the pensions strikes that occurred earlier this year....
Principal Layzell Concedes to #RHOccupy’s Demands
News

Principal Layzell Concedes to #RHOccupy’s Demands

Students known as #RHOccupy have now vacated the Principal’s Corridor after 5 days in position there. They made the decision to leave at 12pm today, March 20, after Chief Operating Officer (COO) David Ashton approached them with a copy of Principal Paul Layzell’s staff newsletter as well his official letter to to Alastair Jarvis, Chief Executive of Universities UK (UUK), and Sally Hunt, chair of the University and College Union. The letter to UUK and UCU called for a return to a Defined Benefit Scheme as well as supporting an indepedent evaluation of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS). These were two of #RHOccupy’s demands, along with an apology for the way staff were treated in regards to strikes and, in particular, pay deductions with action short of a strike (ASOS). All thr...
College Accused of Planting Questions for Principal’s Staff Open Meeting to “Drown Out Questions From UCU Members”
News

College Accused of Planting Questions for Principal’s Staff Open Meeting to “Drown Out Questions From UCU Members”

In an email sent to Royal Holloway line managers on Wednesday 7 March, which Orbital Magazine has seen, the College Communications team have asked for line managers to select "two trusted people" to ask a question at the Principal's next Staff Open Meeting on 12 March. The email stated: Dear [Line Manager], The next staff open meeting is on Monday afternoon at 4pm and earlier this week we changed the topic to address the pensions and the wider higher education landscape. We know we are going to receive a lot of questions from UCU representatives which Paul and the senior team will answer. As well as addressing questions about pensions we’d also like to make sure that other areas that staff have questions on are addressed. To do this we’d like to have some people in the audience prime...
Strike Action: Week One
News

Strike Action: Week One

Strikes over the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) occurred yesterday (Thursday February 22) and today (Friday February 23) at universities all over the country. These two days of strike action ended the first week of a planned four weeks of strike action, called for by the Universities and College Union (UCU) as a result of lecturers and academics losing their defined contribution scheme to their pensions. Thursday’s strike saw a large turnout of lecturers from several departments that contributed to the atmosphere of the entire event. The strike leader, a designated representative of the UCU donning a high-visibility jacket and coordinating the picket line, was quick to discuss the picketing situation with security guards from RHUL. The security guards cited an official law tha...
UCU Warns of an Extension of Strike Action
News

UCU Warns of an Extension of Strike Action

There are plans in motion to escalate the strikes into university exam season in April, May and June. As of February 21, there has been no resolution to the dispute between universities and the University and College Union (UCU) over the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) that would leave lecturers losing an estimated £10,000 to their pension. The General Secretary of the UCU, Sally Hunt, has warned that there is a possibility of strike action being extended if negotiations are not successful in seeking a resolution to the pension dispute. The extension of strike action would lead into exam season, with the potential to disrupt exams for all students, but with a particularly strong impact on final year students. She said that she wouldn’t “rule that off the table at this point ...
Royal Holloway Slammed as “Most Hardline University Employer in UK” Over Strikes
News

Royal Holloway Slammed as “Most Hardline University Employer in UK” Over Strikes

Royal Holloway UCU (University College Union) have claimed that no other university in the UK has made such extensive threats to staff over strike action and have called for academics to not be "intimidated" by the College's "short-sighted approach" to the strikes. Letters that academics have received are encouraging staff to give advance notice of strike action - a move that the UCU claim will undermine the principle of the strikes. Academics are also being told that they must give 5 days notice for action short of a strike (ASOS). The notification forms that have been sent to staff suggest that 'working to contract', 'not undertaking voluntary activities', 'not covering for absent colleagues' and 'not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action' may be counted a...
Everything you need to know about the UCU strikes: why and how you can support your academics.
News

Everything you need to know about the UCU strikes: why and how you can support your academics.

If you don’t need to be persuaded, scroll down for an email template that you can send to Paul Layzell and other members of Senior Management to come out in support of your striking academics and potentially end the strikes sooner. What, when and why are the strikes taking place? The Universities and College Union (UCU) have called for four weeks of ‘unprecedented’ strike action over a deal made by the governing body for universities, University UK (UUK) that would see the average lecturer lose roughly £10,000 of their pension a year in a restructuring of the University Superannuations Scheme (USS). Pensions which are usually paid in by academics each month and then matched by the university, would be tied 100% to the stock market. This means that universities would void their respon...
Students Boycott Principal’s Drinks Over “Sexist” Comments
News

Students Boycott Principal’s Drinks Over “Sexist” Comments

Principal Layzell’s Annual Student Reception is facing a boycott over the comments that he made about the gender pay gap on campus, which were revealed by Orbital Magazine last month. A number of students who have been invited are boycotting the reception unless the Principal apologises for his comments. They are calling for other students who have been invited to follow them in boycotting and calling for pay equality and transparency at Royal Holloway. The drinks reception which is to be hosted on February 19 is usually attended by the Presidents’ of the clubs, societies and media outlets of the Students’ Union, as well as other students who have enriched music or residential life on campus. Despite having the seventh worst gender pay gap at professorial level in the co...