UNISON HIGHER EDUCATION SERICE GROUP CONFERENCE 2008 CONFERENCE RESOLUTIONS Time To Act - Evening The Balance The East Midlands Regional Higher Education Committee welcomes and has tried to work to UNISON's Time to Act Booklet, for trade union duties/activities. We recognise that the allocation of time off arrangements vary from very good to not so good. In areas, where it is not so good the following are an example of why: 1) UNISON's density figures are affected by potential members opting to join University and College Union (UCU) and/or UNITE, although these unions do not have negotiating rights; 2) That in some cases, universities are welcoming the fact that UCU in particular negotiate on behalf of UNISON members; 3) The distribution of facility time amongst recognised trade unions is disproportionate, where unrestricted time can be allocated to UCU and UNITE. The potential ramifications to UNISON are huge. UCU are currently seeking to withdraw from single table bargaining and although local trade union relationships might be good in part, the national line on this will affect what could be the demise of UNISON's facility time in Higher Education and/or the watering down of our negotiating rights. We therefore call on Conference to: a) That UNISON's National Officers open discussions with the national union reps of either UCU/UNITE around negotiating rights in HE Institutions; b) That UNISON starts a national campaign publicising who we represent within the Higher Education Institution. Recruitment DVD This Higher Education Conference is aware of the value of DVD as a recruitment tool. Conference therefore requests the Higher Education Service Group Executive to facilitate the production of an Higher Education specific Recruitment DVD and suggests that each branch and Regional Higher Education Service Group donates a sum of not more than £ 50 to ensure the production and distribution of a quality product. Future of National Bargaining Conference welcomes the new national JNCHES agreement that introduces a single table bargaining structure. However, any agreement is merely a process that allows negotiators to achieve improvements for members. Conference is very concerned that the delay in reaching agreement may have encouraged some local Higher Education employers to think about breaking away from national bargaining. UNISON should work with other unions in a joint union campaign at branch regional and national level to oppose any attempts by institutions to opt out of national bargaining. Conference calls on the Higher Education Service Group Executive (HESGE) to draw up a list of outstanding claims with a view to updating and re- submitting them in a phased and planned programme. Conference also notes that the proposed new timetable for pay negotiations is likely to bring submission of the pay claim forward by several weeks. Therefore conference calls on the HESGE to review the current timetable for annual conference and branch seminar with a view to ensuring that lay member involvement via conference and seminar is continued. Single Table Bargaining This conference notes the decision by the UCU to participate in single table bargaining. This conference believes: 1) That united, trade unions in higher education are stronger and far more effective at campaigning for all members' interests and therefore welcomes the UCU decision; 2) That UNISON should take steps to create and develop good working relationships at local, regional and national levels with the UCU and other trade unions in the sector. This conference resolves to: a) Write to the UCU at a national level congratulating them on their decision to participate in single table bargaining; b) Take steps to initiate joint representative committees at local, regional and national levels to co-ordinate campaigning and action. Continuation of the National Framework Agreement Conference notes that the vast majority of Higher Education institutions have now signed off their agreements and are implementing their new grading structures. During the process concerns have been expressed that some institutions have sought to manipulate the Job Evaluation process to suit their own ends. Whilst recognising that each institution has a different workforce it is likely that a number of common benchmark roles that are performed in most institutions can be identified. Therefore Conference calls on the Higher Education Service Group Executive to identify these roles and seek to survey institutions, so that broad comparisons can be made on job scores and pay. Any anomalies thrown up by the survey should be investigated and challenged as appropriate. Mergers and Takeovers This Conference notes the increasing trend for mergers, takeovers or partnership arrangements between Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)and further education colleges. It further notes that many HEIs have introduced HERA or are well advanced in evaluations and negotiations on the introduction. At the same time further education colleges are being encouraged to implement the Further Education Job Evaluation Scheme (FEJE). In many instances of merger, takeover or partnership working, the Higher Education/Further Education institutions will become the same, or an associated employer. Conference calls on UNISON's Higher Education Section to liaise with the Local Government Section to produce early guidance on how to reconcile the introduction of differing job evaluation schemes with the same/associated employer. Working with Student Unions This Conference notes that UNISON branches in the higher education service group are the appropriate bodies for staff working in student's unions. In many cases, these staff work with inferior pay and conditions of service compared to staff working in the university. In many cases branches report difficult industrial relations issues in student unions and other branches report difficulty in recruiting and in effectively organising and representing this group of staff. The conference calls on the Higher Education Service Group Executive, regions and branches to: 1) Campaign for the implementation of the National Framework Agreement in all Student Unions; 2) Approach National Union of Students (NUS) nationally to agree a protocol on industrial relations and trade union recognition in Student Unions; 3) Work with NUS and AMSU to promote good practice in working with staff unions; 4) Produce materials to support this campaign. 5) give greater publicity to the existing rule which allows full time students to be recruited for the sum of £10 per year. Two Tier Workforce Conference re-affirms its opposition to the privatisation of Higher Education services and will continue to campaign against further transfer of staff. However conference recognises that some services are already privatised and subject to long term contracts. Therefore whilst campaigning to bring services back in-house, it is necessary to ensure that contracted out staff are protected. Conference notes the government's 'Code of practice on workforce matters in public sector service contracts' which is supposed to even the playing field for contracted out staff. We note that Higher Education is exempted from this code but that the government has discussed the idea of a code with UCEA with a view to a "…positive outcome consistent with our aim of ending the two tier workforce" Conference calls on the Higher Education Service Group Executive to: 1) submit a claim to UCEA to reach a code of best practice agreement for HE; 2) launch a campaign to ensure all contractors comply with the code of practice; 3) produce materials and guidance for regions and branches with a view to organising and recruiting contracted out staff. 4) Provide active support and encourangement for Branches to carry out recruitment campaigns amongst these Groups of workers; 5) To fight for recognition agreements amongst employers of privatised staff, where possible. Justice for Contract Staff: End the Two-Tier Workforce in Higher Education Conference notes: 1) The growing use of contract staff employed by private companies to provide cleaning, catering and security services within Higher Education Institutions (HEIs); 2) A high proportion of these staff are non-unionised migrant workers employed on the minimum wage with no trade union or pension rights and only statutory sick pay and holiday entitlement; 3) The ongoing campaign by staff and students at colleges such as the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Birkbeck and others to bring services back in-house, win union recognition for cleaning staff, extend the National Framework Agreement (NFA) to contract staff and guarantee they are paid above the decency threshold (the London Living Wage, for example, set by the GLA low pay unit is currently £7.20 per hour); 4) The position adopted at the London Region Higher Education Committee on 30 October 2007 which agreed to: campaign for an end to the two-tier workforce in HE; extend the NFA to contract staff; support a recruitment initiative aimed at this sector; seek union recognition where agreements do not exist; earmark funds to address linguistic barriers to recruitment and provide training to develop new representatives from amongst contract staff; 5) The motion on privatisation passed at UNISON Higher Education Conference in 2006 which committed the union to: promote the benefits of in-house services; campaign for the recruitment of contract staff; provide advice to branches on how to pursue recognition agreements with private contractors and provide a webpage for this campaign on the UNISON website. Conference believes campaigning to recruit contract staff to UNISON and to end the two-tier workforce will both strengthen individual UNISON branches and help to stem the growing privatisation of services within Higher Education. This Conference therefore instructs the Higher Education Service Group Executive to do the following: a) To campaign for an extension of the National Framework Agreement and right to union recognition for all contract staff within HEI's; b) To continue and extend the recruitment campaign directed at contract staff with publicity and membership materials produced in relevant languages by national office, regions and branches as appropriate taking account of the particular languages spoken by member groups at particular institutions; c) To encourage UNISON Regions to provide appropriate training to enable contract staff to become UNISON workplace representatives; d) Regions to identify branches with particular experience in campaigning in this area with a view encouraging other branches to invite representatives from these experienced branches to speak at meetings on this campaign eg SOAS and Birkbeck in London; e) To hold a one day UNISON Higher Education conference on the campaign to build support links, build recruitment, and discuss fostering improved links between contract staff, UNISON members and other unions representing contract staff. (GMB and Unite). No Outsourcing and the Living Wage Higher Education institutions are at the heart of many political, economic and social developments within our communities. As such it is at the forefront of struggles against inequality and oppression. Those of us who work in Higher Education institutions are proud of their aspirations and reputation, and believe that the institutions should practice what they preach and not build their reputation on practices that contribute to the problems in society which form the focus of the research of so many academic members of staff. This motion calls for institutions to stick to their morals and not to outsource any staff on a permanent basis, i.e. cleaners and security staff. Also, where it is necessary to outsource staff on a temporary basis (i.e. window cleaners etc), institutions should ensure that all staff working at the institutions are paid a living wage in accordance with the UNISON National campaign for the Living Wage. We believe that all Higher Education institutions should ensure that all those employed on campus including cleaners are paid a Living Wage, rewarding hard work and providing enough income for families to live on above a recognised social minimum. Apprenticeships This Conference congratulates John Denham the University and Skills Secretary for the announcement in November 2007 of seven and a half million training places including 120,000 new apprenticeships. Today's apprentices are the next generation of union members and activists. Union members and reps can play an important role in promoting apprenticeships to both employers and members and may support apprentices in a variety of ways. Our support for apprentices can ensure they are paid a fair wage and their apprenticeship is a positive experience. It can also bring in a new generation of members and help build the union. Conference requests the Higher Education Service Group Executive to review and monitor apprenticeship programmes set up by universities and provide guidance and model agreements for branches who are negotiating terms and conditions for the employment of apprentices. An agreement should include: 1) apprentices are employed - ie, they have a contract with their employer for the duration of the training; 2) apprentices receive fair wages determined by collective bargaining; 3) flexible training provision, including time off for study or training as well as information, advice and guidance at work; 4) apprentices who have trouble with key skills elements should be supported; 5) A commitment to a safe and healthy working environment. It should also include mentoring by union representatives and arrangements for them to act as trainers and/or assessors as well as union access to induction days to encourage apprentices to join. Equalities Duties This Conference calls upon the Higher Education Service Group Executive to prepare a Negotiating Guide for Branches to assist them in ensuring that employers meet their Equalities duties under the Equality Act 2006. The Higher Education Service Group Executive should take legal advice to determine whether it is possible to use the Public Sector Duties under the Act to ensure that external companies bidding for outsourced work in the Higher Education Sector comply in addition to their statutory duties under TUPE. Relevant advice should be included in the guidance. Mainstreaming LGBT Equality in Higher Education Conference notes UNISON's long term commitment to equality for all and its programme of work to make this commitment a reality. Conference welcomes new opportunities to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in Higher Education. These include: 1) UNISON's developing Equality Scheme, which encourages all parts of the union to build equality into everything they do, including LGBT equality; 2) The establishment of the Forum for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Equality in Post-School Education, which brings together relevant education unions and other sector bodies, including the Equality Challenge Unit, and is running a series of training events, publishing guidance and producing training materials for universities and colleges; 3) A new research project by the Equality Challenge Unit into the experience of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender staff and students, with UNISON on its steering group, which is due to report in the autumn of 2008; 4) New legal requirements on universities as service providers not to discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation (since April 2007) or gender reassignment (since December 2007). Conference notes that national initiatives and legal changes, while essential, have a limited impact on people's day to day working lives unless they are followed up by local publicity, training, negotiations and organising and recruitment initiatives. Conference welcomes the range of UNISON materials to support this work including the bargaining fact sheets on sexual orientation and gender identity, the newsletter 'Out in UNISON' and monthly LGBT e-bulletin, the LGBT campaign guide, and the model statement on sexual orientation and gender identity, all of which are on the UNISON website. Conference also welcomes the new UNISON one day training course on LGBT equality, aimed primarily at non-LGBT reps and activists. Conference therefore calls on the Higher Education Service Group Executive to promote these resources to regional service group executives and higher education branches and urge their use to take practical steps to recruit and organise LGBT members, train all reps in LGBT equality and win improvements in policy and practice in our universities. The Glass Ceiling Within Higher Education This Conference is appalled that women remain under-represented in senior and better paid positions in higher education. Research has repeatedly shown that while there has been an increase in the number of women employed by universities, their jobs tend to be more casualised and junior than those of their male colleagues. This Conference calls on the National Higher Education Service Group Executive to: 1) Review the outcomes of the JNCHES review of HE finance and pay data to identify information on the gender pay gap and the gender breakdown of staff by grade and occupation; 2) Work with the regional Women's Committees and regional service group executives to collect local information on the gender breakdown of universities to supplement the data collected in 1); 3) Produce advice on the Gender Equality Duty and how to carry an Equality Impact Assessment on institutional policies. This advice should be circulated to all Higher Education activists to ensure that equalities become part of the bargaining agenda; 4) Work with ECU on their 'Equality Mapping Project' which aims to improve the standards of equality data within the higher education sector and in particular improve the level of data collected by HESA on non-academic staff; 5) Report back to the 2009 conference on progress to date. Safeguarding Monitoring Data Conference notes the increasing role of monitoring in the pursuit of equalities in universities - in identifying areas of discrimination and measuring the impact of positive equality policies in our HEIs. Conference endorses the benefits of monitoring the impact of policies and procedures, including those aimed at promoting equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) staff and students. Conference calls for LGBT equality monitoring of the following: 1) progress against LGBT action plans; 2) take up and outcome of grievance and harassment procedures; 3) the content of equality training; 4) attitudes in anonymous staff surveys; 5) information from exit interviews; 6) access to family and partner benefits; 7) language and images used in internal and external communications. However, conference notes that caution must be taken over any proposal to monitor individual employees' sexual orientation and - even more so - their gender history. Conference welcomes the UNISON Bargaining Support Factsheet 'Workforce monitoring for sexual orientation and gender identity'. This highlights the legal right of people applying for or who have obtained a Gender Recognition Certificate to complete confidentiality about this. It sets out pre-conditions before universities should embark on monitoring of sexual orientation or transgender identity/gender history including: a) well publicised policies on LGBT equality; b) an action plan to implement the equality policies, with built in review mechanisms; c) a clear explanation as to the purpose of the monitoring, including how data will be interpreted and how it will be used to further equality; d) an understanding of the differences between sexual orientation and gender identity and a clear rational on whether monitoring one or both; e) a robust strategy to guarantee the confidentiality of people's answers, including who will receive data - one central point - and how it will be processed, stored and reported; f) the confidentiality strategy to be tested by mapping the flow of information from start to finish, to check there is no unnecessary access to data; g) questions about sexual orientation and transgender identity/gender history not simply added to pre-existing monitoring forms for gender, ethnic origin and so on; h) proper consultation with the workforce and the unions, including those most directly affected - LGBT workers; i) clear leadership from the top of the organisation and training for all managers; j) following consultation and the agreeing of a monitoring strategy, briefings for all staff. Conference calls on the Higher Education Service Group Executive to promote UNISON's monitoring guidance and to survey branches on their HEI's current policy and practice on LGBT monitoring. Healthy Workplace Solutions Stress is a growing issue in today's modern workplace, causing concern for trade unions and employers alike. The psychological well-being of a work force should be at the forefront of the employers mind, in nurturing a healthy happy workplace. Stress, depression and anxiety are the cause of more working days lost than any other work-related illness. For some, the link between stress and mental ill health may be a new one. We all need and, to a degree, thrive on stress: it gives us energy, helps with performance and inspires confidence. But when stress becomes harmful, this can lead to other mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Staff who feel healthy and happy are more likely to have a clear sense of purpose. The main role an employer must play is to understand, nurture, and coach staff. Working life has become increasingly stressful in recent years. Employers must protect their staff from excessive pressures to allow them to work in a supportive climate. The employers should regularly review the pressures that staff work under and control these to ensure employees at all levels are healthy and happy. The impact of psychological well-being in terms of financial benefits is at least as large as using effective recruitment methods. People with strong well-being perform better, are less likely to see neutral or ambiguous situations as threatening, and react better to positive feedback and are less hurt by negative feedback. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have launched an initiative to work with employers, and believe that controlling stress is best done through good management and leadership, looking at demands, control, relationships, change, roles and support. This motion urges Higher Education institutions to work alongside the (HSE) with its programmes of reducing stress in the workplace, by managing sickness absence and work-related stress. By doing this, we envisage that Leaders or organisations can create a sense of purpose, a balanced workload, collaborative relationships, a sense of control, well managed change, and a well resourced working environment. An employee claiming Personal Injury through the courts for work-related stress, if they win their case, could win: uncapped compensation (includes financial loss and also pain and suffering). This motion also calls upon UNISON to investigate Healthy Workplace Solutions Masterclasses offered by the HSE to employers, and to encourage employers to work alongside the HSE in implementing these guidelines for a safe and healthy workplace. The cost of getting it wrong could far exceed the cost of getting it right! Employers have an obligation to look after the health, safety and welfare of their employees (HSWA 1974) and a duty to carry out (and act on the findings of) risk assessments for workplace hazards, including work-related stress. The Health and Safety Executive developed the Management Standards to give employers a practical framework through which to undertake the statutory risk-assessment process. Musculosketal Disorders Conference notes that Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) are the most common occupational illness in the UK and affect over a million people. University employees frequently suffer from musculoskeletal problems such as low back pain, joint injuries and repetitive strain injuries of various sorts. Many problems associated with MSDs can be prevented by following health and safety regulation and adhering to good practice. Attention should be paid to identifying all possible risk factors, especially as a combination of factors may be compounding suffering. To prevent MSDs developing, risk factors in the workplace must be identified and then practical measures taken to prevent or reduce those risks. Conference therefore requests the Higher Education Service Group Executive to: 1) Mount a publicity and awareness campaign within HE branches to support university workers and their representatives in understanding what causes MSDs and how they can be prevented or reduced; 2) Produce guidance for branches preparing for negotiations with management on the importance of creating an integrated management approach to MSDs that includes, not just prevention but also the retention, rehabilitation and reintegration of workers who are already suffering from MSDs. Stress Standards According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) there is now convincing evidence that prolonged periods of stress, including work-related stress, have an adverse effect on health. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) define stress as 'the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed on them' In November 2004, HSE launched Stress Management Standards, which are an effective tool to assist institutions to identify the causes of workplace stress and implement practical solutions to manage the risks, dividing stress hazards into 6 categories of Demands, Control, Support (management support and peer support), Relationships, Role, and Change. The 6 categories provide in effect a 'template' that should be used for conducting stress risk assessments. All employers must conduct risk assessments under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 which should now include assessing risks to mental health and well-being from stress at work. Stress should be regarded in the same way as any other health hazard and unions have a major part to play in ensuring that the employer takes their responsibilities to tackle work-related stress seriously. However, for the standards to be effective it is important that branches are involved in the introduction of the standards at every stage and proper consultation takes place. UNISON should continue to work with the HSE, UCEA and HESH in encouraging HEIs to implement them. Therefore, this conference instructs the Higher Education Service Group Executive to encourage branches to: 1) ensure that the implementation of the HSE Standards is a regular item on the Health and Safety Committee agenda of their institution; 2) have discussions with their institution to establish a programme of work to implement these standards in their university/college; 3) ask their institution to provide joint training on the standards for both management and safety reps; 4) ensure that safety reps are aware that, in addition, they can exercise their right to have time off to attend trade union courses on stress management; 5) ask their institution to use the HSE questionnaire to measure how they are currently performing against the standards; 6) carry out their own surveys locally to find out the levels of stress and the causes. Equivalent Or Lower Level Qualification Funding Cuts In early September, the Government instructed the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to withdraw institutional funding for ELQ students - those studying for an equivalent or lower level qualification. Until now, universities were funded for both home and EU students taking a second qualification on the same basis as those taking their first. Now any student wanting to improve their skills in this way will be faced with prohibitively high annual fees of up to four times what they pay now. Institutions that specialise in part-time education, like Birkbeck and the Open University, have a high concentration of these students so will be the worst hit. However, these changes will affect a large number of universities and the effects will be far reaching. All part-time students will suffer, not just those taking a second qualification. If urgent action is not taken these cuts will have an immediate and detrimental effect on all part-time students. Classes will be vulnerable to closure, choice will be reduced and the student experience will be impoverished. As UNISON recognises the importance of lifelong learning we ask that the conference opposes this policy and that UNISON adds its voice to those who are urging the government to reconsider this policy.
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