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UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt visits the OU

Sally Hunt, UCU General Secretary with Pauline Collins, Branch President - photo by Gill Clough

Sally Hunt was the speaker at an OU branch of UCU Open meeting on 15th March 2017 in the OU Library.  She was recently re-elected as the General Secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), view press release.

You can view a recording of the meeting on the OU Stadium website.

Sally paid tribute to Pauline Collins, our Branch President – she described Pauline as very modest and said that she is highly respected within UCU. Sally wanted her thanks to go on record for all the work Pauline puts in to being our President, especially in such challenging times – thank you Pauline!

Sally spoke about the following things:

  • The Trade Union Bill
  • The OU Review and KPMG consultants’ involvement – Sally was keen to hear members’ views about this recent development.
  • Higher Education Bill – UCU has dedicated 9 months’ worth of time and resources into fighting this bill which will bring a fundamental change to the way that HE is delivered.
  • “For profit providers” and the opening up of the HE market.
  • TEF – which will rank institutions as being bronze, silver or gold, this could well lead to increased fees and increase the number of institutions that can be classed as universities.
  • 2 year degree programmes could lead to bog standard teaching.
  • Impact of BREXIT – traumatic times, people have lived in the UK for decades are now faced with uncertainty over their future.  UCU is providing baseline legal support. People have to complete an 80 page form to apply for British residency.  Brexit will damage our sector, overall 15% of university staff come from the EU. 5% of the total UK student population come from the EU and 10% of research students.  Some of these people are already looking for work outside of the UK as they need to plan for the future.
  • Reciprocal rights for British citizens living in Europe.
  • National pay claim 2017 – UCU needs to be clear about what it wants, we need a clear objective in the pay negotiations.  Workload is also a big issue for members, especially people who have lost colleagues and then have to cover their workload.
  • Gender pay – there are currently 30 local equal pay audits happening in 30 Universities.
  • Casual contracts affect the future of UCU, the group of people on casual contracts is getting bigger.  People on casual contracts are not part of the national pay spine so any pay rise that is achieved does not affect these people.
  • Further Education – governments in Scotland and Wales have already reduced the number of FE colleges. Centralisation and new apprenticeships, pressure on the FE curriculum and precarious funding.
  • We are living in interesting times and the election of Donald Trump is affecting the UK. Trump has attacked women’s’ rights and free trade; he has demonised immigrants, he is targeting the judiciary and free press.  The UK has seen an increase in hate crimes.

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