This referendum (which will take the form of a 'preferendum' due to there being multiple voting options) relates to the motion below entitled ‘Preferendum on the Proposed UCU Industrial Action’. The contemporary resolution was proposed by a majority of the Officer Group under Article 7 of the Students’ Union’s Constitution.
The question we will be asking is as follows:
a. To support the UCU’s strike action and its stance in its entirety.
b. To support the UCU’s stance regarding ‘action short of strike’, but reject the decision for wholescale strikes.
c. To support the UCU’s stance, but reject any form of industrial action and ask all parties to convene further talks to establish a mutually agreeable way forward.
d. To reject industrial action and oppose the UCU’s stance in its entirety.
This is a really complex issue - it would be really difficult for you, as a student body, to make a simple yes or no decision. Instead, there are the above four options that cover the various positions, and you will be able to rank them in terms of preference.
On Friday 1 November, it was announced that the Officer Group called for a referendum on this matter. This is within the rights and powers of the Officer Group under Byelaw B of the Constitution that stipulates that a majority of the Officer Group can call for a referendum.
The reasons for this decision are simple; this is an issue that students hold various different beliefs on. Ultimately, the stance of the Students’ Union is determined by you, the students. On issues that are of this nature, which will undoubtedly impact all students, it is only fair and reasonable for the decision to lie with you, the membership.
Across the UK, 60 universities will experience eight days of strike action from 25 November to 4 December 2019. This is due to the University and College Union (UCU) successfully balloting for industrial action, the reasons are outlined below. Each Higher Education institution was balloted separately, with a threshold of 50% turnout, which Royal Holloway UCU did achieve.
There are approximately 400 members of staff at Royal Holloway who are members of the UCU, the vast majority of whom are academic members of staff. Equally, there are other members of staff who are not members of the UCU and are therefore not required to strike, although some may do so in solidarity.
The UCU balloted for two separate issues: the pensions dispute; pay and working conditions. In 2018, the UCU successfully balloted for industrial action on the pensions dispute. However, this was regarding the benefits of the USS pension scheme whereas this year the strike relates to the contributions of the USS pension scheme. The UCU believe that the employer (universities) should pay for any increases to the pension contributions, rather than the current proposal for both the employee and the employer to cover this.
Regarding the issue of pay and working conditions, the UCU are asking for universities to reverse the supposed decrease in pay for staff. This relates to an evaluation by the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) stating that since 2009, ‘real-term’ pay for academic staff has dropped by 17%. Real wages refer to wages offset by inflation, so for example, if inflation was higher than annual pay rises, then you would experience a loss in ‘real wage’.
As a Students’ Union, it is our responsibility to act in the interests of our membership, you – the students. In addition to receiving your guidance on whether we as a Students’ Union should or shouldn’t support the strike action, we are also working to mitigate any negative effects to your experience.
We will be contacting the University in order to engage in discussions as to how the negative impact on students is not detrimental to your academic achievement.
Below you can check out the policy as well as read more useful information on the proposed industrial action. We've also included an article that explains the Alternative Vote (AV) system that will be in place, ensuring we adopt the most representative stance.
Referenda Rules and Complaints Procedure
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