Emergency motion passed on action short of strike (ASOS) 24/11/21

Text of an emergency motion passed regarding ASOS in the upcoming USS dispute at an Imperial UCU all members meeting on 24/11/21:

Imperial UCU notes that 

  • UCU branches which passed the threshold have a mandate for all the elements of ASOS listed on the ballot paper
  • UCU notifications of action to employers cite only work-to-contract and refusal of voluntary duties
  • UCEA has advised institutions that refusing to reschedule classes or cover for absent colleagues are not covered by the notification.

Imperial UCU believes that 

  • No HEC decision dictated the content of the notifications
  • This situation potentially undermines our industrial action.

Imperial UCU calls on the General Secretary and HEC to immediately rectify the situation by issuing corrected notifications of action to the employers.

UCU message on the USS pensions dispute for all staff at Imperial College London

Message for all Imperial College staff from branch UCU, 25/11/21

Dear Colleagues,

The Provost, Ian Walmsley, emailed all staff last Wednesday about next week’s industrial action by the University and College Union (UCU) over cuts to USS pensions. Vice-Provost (Education & Student Experience), Emma McCoy, also sent a separate email about the action to all students.

UCU officially represents all staff in USS who are about to see very significant cuts, on average more than 20%, to their pension imposed by the College. I am therefore writing to tell you why UCU believes industrial action is necessary.

First some background: UCU, together with Unison and Unite, negotiate the pay settlement for all staff, not just our members, every year. We also represent all staff in many workplace matters including policies over bullying and harassment, health and safety issues, precarious jobs, nursery fees, compulsory lecture capture as well as tackling gender and ethnic pay gaps. With almost no staff representation within senior management and governance bodies compared to our peer institutions, UCU plays a vital role in challenging the democratic deficit at Imperial. If you want your voice heard more clearly and are not a member of UCU, please consider joining us!

Back to pensions, these should be considered as deferred pay and a cut to pensions simply represents a cut to pay. Every member of staff needs to ask: what would I do if College threatened to cut my pay?

The first step would be to ask why such a cut was necessary. On this issue at least management and the unions agree:  as the email to students stated: “For several years, UK universities and trade unions have disagreed with the valuation placed upon the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).” For example, the risk that USS might not be able to pay our pensions is based on assuming that it underperforms compared to any 30-year investment period since 1900. That’s worse than over the 30 years that includes the first World War, the Spanish Flu epidemic and the Great Depression!

The second step would be to understand the effect of the cuts. I urge you to find out how this will affect you personally using either the UCU modeller https://www.ucu.org.uk/ussmodeller or the USS modeller  https://www.ussconsultation2021.co.uk/members/impact; with the latter, you can include the effect of the 2.5% inflation cap based on the historical average rate of inflation of 3.5%. Both modellers show that the cuts are worse for younger staff, in part because the eroding effect of this cap.  For example, a typical 37-year-old academic would experience a cut of between 23-35%.

The third step would be to challenge management’s response.  Rather than try to force a new valuation, Universities UK (UUK) have imposed nearly all of the burden onto staff. UCU has proposed alternative short-term proposals for a more balanced sharing of the cost of the 2020 valuation, while a long-term plan for USS is established on a more credible footing. Imperial management must take the lead and publicly call for these alternative proposals to be explored, for the sake of the staff that they claim to value.  Instead, rather than work with UCU in retrieving the pension they say that they value, management have attempted to drive a wedge between the staff and the students that we teach and support. On that score, students have good reason to be sceptical of the claim that “funds will be reinvested to directly benefit students and your education.” UCU has previously requested that pay withheld from striking staff be paid into the student hardship fund, but this request has been refused.

We now believe that the only path open to us to defend our pensions is to take industrial action. We do not want to disrupt the education of our students: we are the ones who know, teach, and support them. But the responsibility for the disruption lies fully with our employers. We are taking this action on behalf of all staff at lmperial, particularly our younger and future colleagues, many of them currently our students, who will lose the most. I urge you to join us, join UCU and support the action necessary to defend our pensions.

Vijay Tymms, President Imperial UCU

On behalf of Imperial UCU Branch

Imperial UCU motions on COVID safety and return to work

Text of two motions passed at an Imperial UCU all members’ meeting on 29/9/21:

Motion 1 on COVID-19 safety at Imperial College

Imperial College UCU notes that:

  • the UK currently has over 30,000 new cases of COVID-19 daily and fatality rates over a thousand per week. These are much higher than in comparable nearby countries
  • Vaccination significantly reduces the risk of death but the risk of infection far less. As the virus is airborne, masks are effective in preventing transmission.
  • current College policy is that “everyone [should] wear a face covering [in] most indoor settings on campus”. However, visible signage to this effect has been removed in most campus locations.
  • current DfE guidance states, “No student should be denied education on the grounds of whether they are, or are not, wearing a face covering.” However, staff are partially liable under health and safety law for their own and students’ safety. They have the right to suspend a face-to-face class and deliver it online if alternatives are unsafe. Denying a student education is not the same as denying participation in a face-to-face setting if the latter would be unsafe.

Imperial College UCU believes that:

  • rising UK infection rates show that government guidelines have failed to protect UK residents
  • Imperial College remains a hazardous environment for both staff and students.

Imperial College UCU believes the following protections must be in place before face-to-face teaching can resume:

  • masks to be required in all indoor areas for all those who can wear them, and in all cramped, crowded, poorly ventilated outdoor areas (eg, South Ken walkway, entrance to Beit Quad)
  • physical distancing to be maintained at 2m
  • room occupancy to be based on 12 – 17 L pp ps ventilation AND CO2 <800 ppm measured by real time CO2 monitors provided by College, with immediate evacuation if CO2 levels reach 800ppm
  • for prolonged occupation of rooms, refresh times to be calculated for removal of aerosols and measured return of CO2 to background level (~ 400-440 ppm). Speed of aerosol removal will depend on the rate of air circulation. A solid evidence base for this must be established
  • room occupancy limits for teaching to be the same for other activities, whichever is lower
  • radio microphones to be provided to individual teachers
  • no staff or student to undertake face-to-face activities if they feel unsafe; no action to be taken against such staff or students
  • teaching to maintain a level academic playing field. This may require default online teaching to avoid discrimination against protected groups unable to come onto campus
  • all measures to be equalities impact assessed before implementation
  • all risk assessments to be transparent and made available to staff and students

These measures will be subject to review and amendment in the event of new variants or new lockdowns.

We believe that failure to implement these measures would be a failure of the College in its duty of care to staff and students, leading to potential future legal action against both the College and those individuals who have signed off on inadequate risk assessments

Under Section 44 of the Employment Relations Act, staff have the right to remove themselves from a work situation they believe to be a serious, imminent and unavoidable danger without detriment or penalty.

Motion 2 on COVID-19 and flexible working at Imperial College

Imperial College UCU would like to be supported on staff flexible working arrangements during academic year 2021-2022 in the following manner

  1. Any Imperial staff member should be given the option to continue working from home if their roles do not need them to physically be in an office or lecture room and other alternatives are feasible to meet their job duties
  2. Any member who has been asked to return to campus for certain number of days should have the option to decline it, if they can work remotely and their performance is not affected by not being physically on campus
  3. Managers should work with their staff to allow flexibility on when to be on campus.
  4. Personal and travel arrangements should be considered with the safety of staff being a priority.
  5. Imperial staff should be supported if they choose to work from campus whenever they like provided they follow suitable health and safety procedures
  6. All imperial staff who are carers, vulnerable or have been shielding in the last 18 months should be given the opportunity to work from home if they like until further notice without any negative consequences

These proposals are subject to review and amendment depending on changed circumstances such as the emergence of a new variant or new lockdowns.

Branch UCU comment piece for Felix, published 29/10/21

Text from the comment piece for Felix

UCU strikes are an unfortunate last resort 

Our lecturers, teachers, administrators, technical staff, and researchers are voting on whether to go on strike 

It really doesn’t have to be this way. Staff members of the University and College Union (UCU) voting on whether to go on strike over huge cuts to pensions. But that’s what is happening, at Imperial, and in universities across the UK. Voting started on 18th October and runs until Thursday 4th November. If enough votes are in favour, lecturers, teachers, administrators, technical staff, and researchers will be taking the drastic step of withdrawing their labour and forming picket lines, to pressure university management to stop their severe and unnecessary cuts.

No-one wants to strike. It is always a last resort. Unfortunately, staff are having to consider industrial action due to intransigence by university employers — including Imperial — and their refusal to take an evidence-based approach to the University Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension scheme.

The USS pension scheme  

A Defined Benefit pension scheme like the USS is a form of “deferred pay”: an employee agrees to defer, or put aside, some of their salary now, in return for a guaranteed income — a proportion of their average salary over their career — on retirement. Most academic and academic-related staff in pre-1992 universities in the UK, including Imperial College, are members of the USS. An employee and their employer make contributions into the scheme, which are collectively invested and, when the employee retires, their pension is paid out of collective USS assets. Imperial College — as part of the university employers’ organisation Universities UK (UUK) — wants to slash the benefits to its employees. The UCU estimates that, for example, a 35-year-old lecturer starting work now on spine point 29 at Imperial College is set to lose around 45% of their guaranteed pension income. This can be seen using the UCU modeller for predicting pension benefits: https://www.ucu.org.uk/ussmodeller

What is the dispute over?

Pensions are complicated. But in this case, this time around, UCU believes that the situation is relatively simple.

The main organisations involved in the current dispute are USS itself, UUK (representing employers), UCU (representing working and retired members of USS) and the Government via the Pensions Regulator (tPR). The Regulator requires USS to assess the value its fund every 3 years to decide whether making prudent assumptions about how the fund will behave in the future, it can pay out the pensions that it has guaranteed to pay. The last valuation was in 2018. USS then opted to perform an early valuation, in March 2020, just as the stock market fell due mainly to uncertainties caused by the global coronavirus pandemic. USS’s March 2020 valuation reported a deficit of £15.4bn. UCU and other commentators have criticised this valuation as unscientific and unreliable, as well as being untimely; see, for example: https://medium.com/ussbriefs/how-extreme-prudence-and-misguided-risk-management-sent-the-uss-into-crisis-baf78c35d9e1

However, UCU and its members are on very strong ground: even if one takes this March 2020 headline deficit of £15.4bn, calculated by the flawed USS methodology, at face value, 17 months later on August 31st 2021, USS assets were valued at £89.6bn which is £23.1bn higher than in March 2020:

https://twitter.com/StevenJulious/status/1451577519346524171?s=20

The prima facie evidence is that USS is now in surplus by many billions. And a more sensible scientific valuation methodology — as recommended by the Joint Expert Panel (JEP) set up after the 2018 strike over USS — would likely show USS now to be in surplus by even more.

The scarcely credible situation now is that Imperial College supports slashing its employees’ pension benefits on the basis of a valuation in 2020 that has been overturned by the events of the last year and a half. It is totally unnecessary. Staff are asking employers to not make the cuts and to work with UCU to make these damaging disputes a thing of the past. But employers are going ahead anyway. When pension cuts were proposed by UUK in 2018, on the basis of similarly flawed arguments, members of UCU went on strike to defend their pensions and won: the proposed cuts were not made and the JEP was set up, giving staff hope that economic sense, financial sense, scientific rigour and greater transparency would prevail at USS. But now in 2021, even more severe cuts are being proposed on even flimsier grounds.

What is happening now and what you can do

If the vote for industrial action is successful, UCU will go back to UUK and USS after 4th November and ask them to withdraw the planned cuts and work together. If they don’t then we’ll be in the situation no-one wants, and UCU members will withdraw our labour and picket campus. If staff do go on strike, we will be standing up for ourselves and for the College which needs a good, affordable, guaranteed pension scheme so that people want to work here and so that an academic or academic-related career is desirable and attainable for future generations. But we don’t want to strike.  You can help by writing to the Provost and President to ask them to be scientific, to look at the evidence and to show leadership by asking that UUK work with UCU to avoid this dispute.

Ballot for Industrial Action – ICT Restructure

The branch is currently balloting for strike action and industrial action short of strike action. This is a postal ballot not an online ballot. You should have received the ballot by now in the post at the preferred address you’ve registered with UCU.

It is recommended that you return the ballot by 10 November to ensure it arrives on time to be counted. Use the prepaid envelope included with the ballot – you don’t even need to add a stamp.

It is a legal requirement that at least 50% of the ballots are returned for the vote to be recognised, so it is vital that you return your ballot regardless of how you vote.

 

What is the ICT dispute about?

On 29 May, a “White Paper” by the ICT department’s new CIO announced plans to make £2.7 million worth of savings due to “inefficiencies” in its services. These cuts will directly impact on 156 staff and will mean compulsory redundancies for many longstanding ICT members. At the same time, many others are being forced to re-apply for jobs which are often identical to those they are already doing but paid at a much lower salary.

Haven’t management consulted staff about these changes?

Management say they are consulting staff, but the process has in practice been a sham.

The plans are not based on any consultation with academic departments or ICT staff. A genuine consultation could alter the restructure plans, the pools of staff affected, the job evaluation and selection procedures, and / or the numbers and identities in each group. Instead, individual staff have already been identified and interviewed about potential redundancy or a reduction in grade. In some cases, new roles are being advertised externally – ignoring possible redeployment for those at risk.

College procedure states that decisions on whether to go ahead with restructure, or to amend or keep the current one can be made only once the consultation period ends and feedback has been considered. Instead, feedback from the trade unions has been ignored, as have questions from individual ICT staff. With all possible outcomes determined in advance, meaningful consultation has been impossible.

What’s wrong with the plans?

The ICT restructure is a cost-cutting exercise detrimental to teaching & research at a research-intensive university. Imperial has a prominent role in the computer modelling of COVID-19, but the plans do not mention COVID-19 in describing how the College will meet new challenges. As a consequence of the pandemic, Imperial has been rapidly moving huge parts of its teaching online – a process requiring more and not less ICT resources.

The claims in the “White Paper” that ICT is over resourced are based on comparisons with four other universities, showing Imperial has highest income per student or staff member. These claims treat ICT provision at Imperial as a corporate system and misrepresent its relative costs. Imperial is the only STEM university among these peers, all of which have a much higher student to staff ratio. The “White Paper” does not contains any estimate for the cost of the restructure or any explanation of how or if ICT costs would subsequently fall.

How do the ICT cuts affect me?

The White Paper states explicitly that the cuts in ICT are part of a long-term plan to “increase its operating cashflow by £30m within five years.” In other words, if these cuts are allowed to proceed, we still face further cuts of over £27 million over the next four years.

If the College succeed in sacking some staff and downgrading others as part of this cost-cutting exercise now, they will believe they can do the same in other College departments afterwards. This goes beyond the immediate adverse impact on the day-to-day functioning of the College that will result from a reduction in ICT services and staff.

Isn’t the UCU being unreasonable in resorting to strike action?

Nobody takes a decision to withdraw their labour and voluntarily lose wages lightly. Your reps have attended numerous meetings in attempts to secure meaningful negotiations while representing individual ICT members in discussions with HR. We organised an Open Letter to management, signed by over 1300 College staff. We have organised several meetings, not just of UCU members, but of all ICT staff. These led to a report by a working group explaining how the cuts would damage the ICT service as well as all College services and departments. We have taken legal action because management have been prepared to break the law in order to impose the cuts. Strikes are a weapon of last resort. We have now exhausted every other available option.

Isn’t it too late to late to ballot now?

It’s true that several ICT staff have already taken voluntary redundancy, after being told they have no role in the planned new structure and their skills are no longer required. However, we know that several such members have already been told by management that they must work their full notice period in order to pass on these same skills to new staff!

Given the complexities involved in the shift to online working, and the fact that to date no member of ICT has yet been issued with a notice of compulsory redundancy, this ballot is a key tool to maintain the pressure on management for a change of course.

Didn’t our last strike action end in failure?

The national action about pay (at other universities, part of “the 4Fights”) and USS pensions was suspended because the last series of strikes ended just before the Covid-19 lockdown began. The action did not fail but was suspended – partly because UCU members wanted to be seen as showing goodwill by working together with management to fight the pandemic. Unfortunately, this goodwill has not been reciprocated, and the outcome of these disputes has yet to be determined. Our dispute over the ICT cuts is entirely separate.

How can strike action make a difference?

Imperial is a wealthy institution with large capital and cash reserves. It is under no financial pressure to make these cuts. The widely predicted shortfall in student recruitment, and the huge fall in income this would have involved, has failed to materialise. On the contrary, many courses have been over-subscribed.

Our campaign thus far has helped to make the plans to restructure ICT both well-known and widely unpopular among College staff. We have good reason to believe we can win support for strike action to defend the jobs and conditions of our members.

The law requires that individuals have to be given 3 months’ notice of compulsory redundancy. We therefore have time to apply pressure, through strike action, to make management change their minds and stop these cuts.

When does the ballot finish and from which date might industrial action begin?

The ballot began on Monday 26 October and ends on Friday 13 November. You should have received your ballot form by Wednesday 28 October at the latest. If not received, contact UCU to order a replacement ballot paper. The last date for which you can safely post your vote is the night of Tuesday 10 November.

Every vote counts. The law requires all industrial action ballots to be conducted by post, and that at least 50 percent of all those eligible to vote do so. If this threshold is achieved, the first date on which any action can take place is Monday 7 December.

Dispute About ICT Restructure – Consultative Ballot

Imperial UCU members, your action is needed – check your inbox for an email from the UCU (yoursay@ucu.org.uk) titled UCU consultative ballot on redundancies for your unique link to cast your vote in the consultative ballot.

What we are asking of you

We are carrying out a consultative ballot among all members of Imperial UCU to ask if you are prepared to support and participate in strike action, and action short of strike action, to stop compulsory redundancies in the college’s ICT department.

This is not a formal strike ballot. Please also note that any decision as to the nature and extent of industrial action can only be taken following a ‘Yes’ vote in such a formal ballot.

The current situation

Imperial UCU has formally declared a dispute over the college’s intention to impose a restructure in the ICT department.

The restructure aims to cut costs by reducing staff numbers by 30 per cent and forcing individuals to reapply for new job roles at reduced salaries. Unless these plans are abandoned, a badly needed college service will be severely damaged, with many of its staff sacked while others endure pay cuts.

College management have refused throughout this process to engage in any meaningful consultation with either the staff concerned or the relevant trade unions. The outcome of the ‘consultation’ has been wholly pre-determined.

What we have done

We have already done everything in our power to prevent these cuts. This includes an open letter signed by over 1300 college staff and legal action over serious breaches of the relevant legislation. We have shown that the plans lack any basis in evidence and cannot meet their declared goal of improving the service. Several all-staff ICT meetings led to a report detailing how extensively these cuts will negatively impact on the college’s work. All this has led to large numbers of ICT staff joining the UCU, but only very limited changes to the restructure.

The consultation will close on Wednesday 12 August. Thanks for your participation.

Why you should vote ‘YES’

These plans are being imposed in an especially demanding period, when the college is moving rapidly to online teaching and learning, and when staff and students alike are especially dependent on a well-resourced ICT department.

The ‘White Paper’ outlining the restructure states clearly that the aim is to cut costs by almost £3 million – the first step in college plans to impose a total of £30 million in savings over 5 years. The outcome of this dispute will have a decisive influence on these plans.

We therefore ask that, in this consultation, you VOTE YES to strike action and VOTE YES to action short of strike action to stop the ICT restructure and stop compulsory redundancies among ICT staff.

Vote ‘YES’ in the consultative ballot

Imperial UCU branch officers recommend that you vote YES to strike action and YES to action short of strike action against compulsory redundancies in the ICT department.

10 Reasons to Vote ‘YES’

  1. There is no evidence to support claims that Imperial ICT is over-resourced and badly regarded.
  2. The plans are primarily a cost-cutting exercise which are hugely detrimental to teaching & research.
  3. The College ‘White Paper’ outlining the plans was not based on consultation with academic departments or the expertise of ICT staff.
  4. Consultation outcomes were predetermined from the outset, eg in relation to selection pools and job evaluation procedures – making meaningful negotiations impossible.
  5. Staff losses and downgradings will have a severely detrimental impact on the ICT service, with the loss of invaluable experience adding to the workload of a smaller workforce which faces a future with a greater emphasis on remote / multimodal service delivery.
  6. Like many other universities, Imperial is rapidly moving large parts of teaching online – a huge undertaking which will require more not less ICT staff.
  7. The claims in the ‘White Paper’ are based on misleading assertions. They treat ICT provision at Imperial as a corporate system. They misrepresent the relative costs of ICT at Imperial compared to peers quoted as comparators. Imperial is the only STEM university among these peers, all of which have a much higher student to staff ratio.
  8. The ‘White Paper’ contains no estimate for the cost of the restructure and no explanation of how or if ICT costs would subsequently fall.
  9. The ‘White Paper’ states that the £2.7 million cuts to ICT are based on a College decision to “increase its operating cashflow by £30m within five years”. The likelihood of further cuts will therefore in large part be determined by the outcome of this dispute.
  10. Like other University employers, Imperial is pushing through cost saving measures without any meaningful consultation with staff and unions. These plans signal an intention to make further attacks on staff jobs if there is a shortfall in student fees in the next academic year.

We need to fight to protect staff jobs and working conditions and to oppose the corporate agenda of the College management.

We believe that Imperial should invest in the future and retain rather than lose staff who in many cases have served Imperial College for decades and until very recently considered ‘key workers’.

Open Letter in Response to ICT Restructuring at Imperial

The ICT department at Imperial provides essential core services to the entire college, but it is currently under threat of restructuring which carries a risk of around 75 staff redundancies with over 156 staff to be impacted in some way.

We are inviting staff to sign an open letter expressing their concern at this proposed restructuring. The letter references a White Paper outlining the proposal, which can be viewed online (only available to those with Imperial accounts).

A list of the signatories can be viewed here (only available to those with Imperial accounts). Note that there will be a delay between signing the letter and your name appearing on the list of signatures, be assured that all names are being recorded.

Open Letter

Below is the text of the open letter that all staff at Imperial are being invited to sign. You will need to sign in with your Imperial account in order to do so.

As a member of staff at Imperial College London I would like to express my deep concern about the planned restructuring of our ICT service. The current plan has been developed without any proper consultation on what I need for either teaching, research or to support these activities, jeopardising the ICT service I rely on at one of the most critical times for the College.

The White Paper outlining the restructure of ICT states that “overall 156 staff will be directly impacted”, that many “will need to compete for roles” and “approximately 75 staff will be at risk of redundancy”. The evidence suggests this restructuring is primarily a cost-saving exercise. It is also being rushed through in breach of the College’s own official procedures on restructuring. These specify that only after consultation has been completed can a decision be made on whether to proceed. Instead, HR immediately placed all members of ICT in separate risk groups, with recruitment to new roles scheduled to start before the consultation will be finished. This deliberately stifles any meaningful consultation with the threatened staff, the broader College community and the trade unions that represent them.

My concerns extend beyond the conduct of this restructuring at a time when many staff are already feeling especially vulnerable. These cuts put at risk crucial teaching and support activities at a time when the College is rapidly moving student learning online. The immense challenges involved have already led to more, not less, demands on our ICT staff. As a research-intensive university, Imperial relies heavily on the quality of its ICT service, not least for its role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These plans amount to a reckless approach that is destabilising a vital College resource. The current restructuring is undermining staff who have dedicated themselves to ensuring the College has continued to function under the most difficult of circumstances. I request that the current restructuring is halted, and a plan developed for ICT that properly takes account of what College requires to deliver its academic mission in these challenging times.

Imperial staff can click here to sign the letter.

Letter to Provost Ian Walmsley

Dear Ian,

Just over a month ago, 27/1/20, you wrote to all staff:

“This year’s pay and benefit consultation will be informed by the new Pay and Employment Benchmarking Report (from a working group led by Professor Nigel Brandon, Dean of Engineering). This compares salaries and benefits from comparable institutions in the US and Europe. The report will be reviewed by Provost’s Board this week, and a decision made on implementing its recommendations. Our aspiration is to be competitive in our compensation, recognizing the different environments in which we and our competitors operate. The report and the outcomes of the Board’s deliberation on alignment of pay to comparator benchmarks will be shared with you.”

In February’s FoE MC Summary, sent to EEE staff on 4/3/20 we were told:

“Audrey Fraser, Head of Reward, Engagement and Policy in Human Resources joined the FMC to provide an update on the pay and benefits benchmarking data generated by UCEA. The benchmarking now enabled comparisons of academic pay and benefits with leading London universities in STEM subjects, Russell Group universities, and selected US and European institutions. The data will be discussed at the March meeting of Provost’s Board, with the intention that this robust emerging data set will be used every 1-2 years to inform the approach to pay and benefits at Imperial. Members noted that the costs of living in/near London are also a significant factor for staff and a review of housing support is also going to be carried out over the coming year.”

 

The Pay and Employment Benchmarking Report was one of management’s responses to the 2018 industrial action. It is disappointing that consideration of this report by the Provost Board was delayed from January to March, especially as you were informed on 27/1/20 that members at Imperial UCU had voted for industrial action on pay. To postpone consideration by senior management of the pay information that might help them better understand the vote for action is difficult to understand. Certainly it meant that the Provost Board could not use that information to reassess the basis of our claim and consider if the strike could be averted in a timely manner.

Staff are very reluctant to take industrial action. In fact the current strike is the first on pay since Imperial left national negotiations in 2005. Richard Sykes, the Rector at the time, said a local settlement was necessary to give staff at Imperial the pay they deserved. But since Sykes left in 2008, pay levels at Imperial have fallen by 12.2% in real terms. That figure represents the subsequent drop in the value of the annual settlement at Imperial with respect to the local measure of inflation, CPIH London, as supplied by College to inform our local pay negotiations. College might be reluctant to use CPIH London, but it is the measure that best reflects the pressures staff at Imperial face.

In your latest response to us, below, you seek to assure us that our views will be taken into consideration. However, there is no mention of the Pay and Employment Benchmarking Report, and you state, without any justification, that national as well as local inflation should inform the pay settlement. It is difficult to feel reassured if key information is either being ignored or discounted.

Finally, regarding transparency, particularly the policy of pay in lieu of pensions, it should be noted how that policy affected pay for all staff after its implementation in 2016. Looking at ranked salaries in the period from 2015 to 2017, the College accounts show there was a very considerable uplift in the salaries enjoyed by the highest paid staff:

Such an increase was the result of a decision by senior management to compensate themselves for the change in pension taxation introduced in 2016. In the current dispute, in answer to a questionnaire from UUK, Imperial’s senior management stated they did not want to offer any compensation for the increase in USS employee contributions faced by the majority staff at Imperial.

 

All the best

Tom

_________________

W Thomas Pike

Professor in Microengineering
Optical and Semiconductor Devices
Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Imperial College London SW7 2AZ

Teach Out Events – Week Commencing 9 March

The following events will all take place from 12:15-2:00pm in the Metric Room of the Imperial Student Union, Beit Quadrangle, Prince Consort Road, SW7 2BB.

These are open events, all are welcome to attend – Imperial staff and students along with members of the general public.

Monday, 9 March

International Women’s Day – Panel Discussion on Current Challenges for Women in Higher Education with

  • Becky Stewart (Chair), Lecturer in Dyson School of Design Engineering
  • Fay Dowker, Professor of Theoretical Physics, Physics Department
  • Nousheen Tariq, Postgraduate Education Manager, Faculty of Medicine
  • Emma Toumi, Head of Intellectual Property Strategy, Enterprise Division
  • Gemma Williamson, Postgraduate Education Officer, Faculty of Medicine

Resisting the Hostile Environment with Julian Bild – Immigration solicitor, Anti Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit (ATLEU)

(link to Facebook event)

Thursday, 12 March

Viruses: Fact, Fiction … and Fear with Dr Michael McGarvey, Reader in Molecular Virology, Imperial College London

(link to Facebook event)

Friday, 13 March

No teach out, instead there will be a solidarity rally on Exhibition Road before the March for Education and Earth.

Teach Out Events – Week Commencing 2 March

The following events will all take place from 12:15-2:00pm in the Metric Room of the Imperial Student Union, Beit Quadrangle, Prince Consort Road, SW7 2BB.

These are open events, all are welcome to attend – Imperial staff and students along with members of the general public.

Monday, 2 March

The Random Universe with Andrew Jaffe, Professor of Astrophysics and Cosmology, Imperial College London

Tuesday, 3 March

Fossil Free Economy Debate with

  • Martin Blunt, Shell Professor of Reservoir Engineering, Imperial College London
  • Sheridan Few, Research Associate, Grantham Institute, Imperial College London
  • Camilla Royle, Geography Department, King’s College London

(link to Facebook event)

Wednesday, 4 March

The Politics of Mental Health with Roddy Slorach, Senior Disability Advisor, Imperial College London

Thursday, 5 March

Mars: Our Future? with Tom Pike, Professor of Microengineering, Imperial College London

(link to Facebook event)