Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Higher Education Race Action Group Conference

Oxford Brookes Unison Branch Sponsors HERAG Conference

by Kanja Sesay

On the 14th June, the Higher Education Race Action Group (HERAG) held its 4th Think Tank conference in London. The conference explored themes that are pertinent to the current discussions and research around race, such as BME (Black Minority Ethnic) representation and success in postgraduate courses and/ or increasing the pipeline into staffing and leadership roles. Developing a consistent approach to improving the BME retention and attainment and ensuring effective implementation within the institution. Other themes such as the development of targeted race equality policies without taking a deficit model approach were explored.

Oxford Brookes Unison branch was one of the main sponsors of this event, and along with the chair of the HERAG group, we highlighted the work of the Unison Black members as decided by the Black members Annual Conference, in various areas, which included the Recruitment and organising of Black members in the fragmented workforce, with a working group that will look at effective and clear pathway that will assist Black members to become leaders for the future. Unison Black Members will also be working on tackling the increase in hate crime following the Brexit vote which has seen a 42% higher than the previous year in racial violence.

During the HERAG Conference, Oxford Brookes Unison held a stall with various Black members publications. Publications such as Defining ‘Black’ leaflet, as well as the Unison banner which was on display for the duration of the conference. Delegates and organisers of the conference were grateful for the sponsorship received from Oxford Brookes Unison and for supporting such an important conference, and hope to continue working together.

I would like to thank the Oxford Brookes Unison Committee for their support and its members as well.

PowerPoint from the Conference

Pictures from the Conference

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

BME Forum

There will be a UNISON BME event this Friday 7th July, for all self-defining BME members.

The venue is JHB406 (John Henry Brookes Building) from 4pm to 6pm.

If you are interested in attending, please email bsesay@brookes.ac.uk to confirm your attendance.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Unison National Delegate Conference

Two delegates from Oxford Brookes Unison branch attended Unison's National Delegate Conference, an inspiring event that brings the whole union together to discuss motions on topics such as increasing the minimum wage, tackling poverty and inequality, the rights of workers from other EU countries, organising in the workplace to defend our members and colleagues against racism, homophobia, transphobia, and ablism; and working to tackle stress and increased workloads.

Friday, 16 June 2017

2017 Pay Offer

The employers have made a final offer of an increase of 1.7% or approximately £365 a year whichever is the greater. This means that everyone at Brookes on Grade 6 or above would get 1.7% while staff on lower grades would get between 2.43% (at the very bottom) and 1.7% at the top of Grade 5. Apart from a very few staff who are on Grade 1, our lowest paid staff are on Grade 2 and people at the top of Grade 2 would get £364 per year which is a rise of 2.19%.

To put this in perspective, average pay rises across the country are currently 1.7%, (although as the public sector is still capped at 1%, this means that private sector pay is rising by more than 1.7%) and inflation (as measured by the Government’s fiddled CPI) is 2.9% - the more realistic RPI figure is currently 3.9%. Both CPI and RPI are predicted to rise further as the year goes on, so will be still higher when the rise is implemented in August.

Positive features of the offer:
  • It gives (slightly) more to the lowest paid
  • It means that many/ most staff (at Brookes and nationally) will be earning more than the Foundation Living Wage
  • It is more than public sector workers will be offered
  • It is more than we received last year

Negative features of the offer:
  • In real terms (i.e. taking account of inflation), it is actually a pay cut for everyone
  • Instead of redressing many years of pay cuts, it cuts real pay further
  • For Oxford Brookes, it does nothing to address the high cost of living in/ around Oxford
  • There is plenty of money in the HE sector if the employers wanted to offer a fair pay rise

UNISON’s National Higher Education Committee has considered the offer and is clear that it is the best that can be achieved by negotiation (in other words, that it will only be improved by a sustained national campaign of strike action). They are now consulting all UNISON members to find out what members want UNISON to do. The other unions are consulting their members.

UNISON and the other Trade Unions have worked hard to get the best deal that can be obtained just by negotiation. However the national employers have decided, yet again, that they can get away with making a pitifully inadequate offer. The decision is now yours. The choice is very simple – either you will decide that we should accept the offer (no doubt, very reluctantly and resentfully) or you will decide that you are prepared to join in a campaign of strike action to improve the offer. THERE IS NO THIRD CHOICE. Voting to reject the offer if you are not prepared to take part in strike action will NOT achieve an increase, will undermine the credibility of the negotiators in future negotiations, will cost the union time and money that could be better spent on achieving other things and will delay the implementation of offer, inadequate though it is. ABSTAINING IS NOT AN OPTION. Not voting at all is the worst of all worlds. A low response will leave the negotiators having to guess what members want, again putting them in a very weak position against the employers and likely to go down a road that is not what members want.

If you have any questions about the offer, either contact your steward or come to one of the meetings (details enclosed). If you want to make any comment about the offer, come to one of the meetings.

The Consultation Process

Every member will receive either a paper ballot paper or a link to an electronic ballot. In each case, the process requires you to give your p-number. This is solely to stop anyone voting more than once and will NOT be used to identify which way anyone voted (but votes where no p-number is given will NOT be counted).

You can vote using our online ballot paper – it will automatically capture your p-number and will not allow you to vote more than once. Please ensure you vote before 1.00 on Monday 3rd July.

Meetings to discuss the Pay Offer will be held on:

  • Wheatley Campus - Tuesday 20th June 2017, 1pm - 2pm in room EL20
  • Headington Campus - Monday 26th June 2017, 12pm - 1pm in JHB 128 (Exec suite)
  • Harcourt Hill Campus - Tuesday 27th June 2017, 10am - 11am in Westminster (SU) Bar
  • Swindon campus – contact Aaron Worsley (3135/ 5104 – aworsley@brookes.ac.uk)

Please make sure you vote. It is a very difficult choice to make but only you can make it. It is not fair on the negotiators and undermines the position of us all if people do not vote – because it leaves the negotiators having to guess and weakens them (and hence us) when they meet the employers.

See also the Pay Offer leaflet from Unison PDF

Unison lunch

Thursday 29th June, from 1.30 to 2.30 pm in Gibbs 126.

Delicious snacks and light refreshments provided.

Non-members welcome.

Monday, 22 May 2017

New HR disability network

The Human Resources directorate are organising a new Disability Network at Oxford Brookes.

The initial approach is to invite colleagues, interested allies and supporters to a lunchtime meet up (with lunch!) where networking needs, ideas and models can be shared.

The first lunchtime meet up will be on Tuesday 13 June from 12 to 1.30 pm, in ​Room JHB 205, Headington Campus​.

​A number of colleagues have suggested that a focus for communication and support for disabled staff would be beneficial. This would be inclusive of staff with mobility issues and physical disabilities, dyslexia and specific learning difficulties, long term conditions and mental health issues. A network
​could​ also connect allies and supporters and those who may be caring for friends or family who have become disabled.

The aim would be to create an inclusive and flexible network. This could enable experience to be shared, ​raise awareness and ​​give positive profile​ ​to ​disabled members of Brookes community, support good practice and encourage career development. The network can also provide a route for listening to the voices and experiences of Brookes community to influence policy and practice development.

One focus could also be to develop an event for Disability History Month in December to increase awareness of Disability Equality at Oxford Brookes.

Please let Jane Butcher know if this is of interest, if you can attend, and any access or dietary requirements: ​jane.butcher@brookes.ac.uk

Thursday, 18 May 2017

UNISON There for You: School Uniform Grants Programme 2017

If you have children in full time education, you may be eligible to receive a school uniform grant from UNISON’s charity There for You.  To be considered, you must either be:
  • In receipt of Housing Benefit; or
  • Your net annual income is £18,000 or below [Note: We ignore the following income Child benefit, any childcare element included as part of your working tax credits, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment].
Also, you will need to have paid a minimum 4 weeks membership subscriptions before 22nd May 2017
To take advantage of this grant please complete the forms below and return to us with all the supporting documentation requested. We’ve also included a Q&A setting out the full conditions and eligibility criteria which should answer any questions that you have.
Please note the closing date is 21st July.

For more information contact us on 020 7121 5620 or email thereforyou@unison.co.uk or contact your branch welfare officer.