Produced by Belfast Association of University Teachers Issue No 7 May 1999
There were pickets on the main entrances to the QUB main site from 6.45 a.m. The strike date had been chosen nationally and in Queen’s it fell between the end of teaching and the beginning of examinations, and so the place would have been quiet anyway. However, on the 25th the site was virtually deserted with the car parks empty and many buildings in darkness. Our colleagues in other trade-unions report that virtually no academic and related staff were in.
Duncan Mercer and Renee Prendergast gave radio interviews, and Paul Hudson and Renee Prendergast gave television interviews from the picket line. The television coverage was on the local news where it was combined with that of the University of Ulster. We gave interviews to the Newsletter, the Belfast Telegraph which also carried a photograph of the picket, and the Irish News which also dug up some figures on the V-C’s salary.
At lunch-time we held a rally in the Students’ Union which was attended by about 100 people. It was addressed by the President of the Students’ Union, by Martin Stroud of MSF and by John Campbell of TGWU. The AUT speakers were Duncan Mercer and Paul Hudson.
The same pattern was repeated across the UK and will be reported in AUT Update next week. For a round-up of strike activities see the web-site http://www.aut.org.uk/campaigns/pay/strike.htm
We want to thank all our members who absented themselves from work, who picketed and who attended the rally. We suspect that some of them may not have voted for the action, but their loyalty to AUT is noted and appreciated.
The Actions Continue
The strike was successful in that it was the necessary first successful step in our salary campaign. But we now have to follow through with the other actions listed in Newsletters No 5 & 6. The rolling program of disruptive (in)action during the summer is meant to be an irritant to the employers. For legal reasons it applies only to members who were balloted. It is action short of a strike and so that when members do not undertake the work specified they should do other duties instead.
From 1 June members will cease involvement in appraisal, work associated with teaching quality exercises including those organised by QAA and Ofsted, and administrative work associated with the Research Assessment Exercise.
On 4th, 11th, 18th June, members should take no part whatsoever in the examination system — whatever stage or part of the process has been reached. This covers the full range of stages in examinations and assessed course-work including informal and formal meetings of examination boards. It is intended to delay and disrupt, but exam results should appear eventually. Due to legal problems with notification of the employers, the exams action on 1st June will not take place, although the actions in the previous paragraph will start.
From 14 June, members will be asked to cease to fill in any forms related to quality issues and any other forms designated by the Local Association which will impede the bureaucratic processes. We will tell you more in the next Newsletter.
We will organise publicity events on Graduation days. Again we will tell you more in the next Newsletter.
On four dates in August (at roughly weekly intervals) selected by the Local Association, members should take no part in the admission of students for the 1999-2000 session. Again we will announce the dates later. The intention is to disrupt admissions, but not to prevent them.
On designated dates announced at short-notice by HQ members will be asked to unplug phones and not to deal with any e-mails connected with the administration of their universities.
You Work Only Five Days a Week
We welcome the V-C’s intention to pay the money deducted from the strikers into the student hardship fund. However, we wonder if the management have thought of all the implications of deducting 1/260 of annual salary rather than 1/365. (The great majority of universities, including Ulster, have used 1/365.) Up till now most staff have had an open contract. Since the management now pay you for only 260 days a year (including holidays) you can be expected to work only five days a week. Thus if you are required to perform duties at the week-end, you should be given time off in lieu. Moreover, the management logically cannot claim exclusive ownership of your intellectual property rights, since you could have performed the work on the other 105 days. We will be exploring the full consequences with the management.
AGM and Call for Nominations
The Annual General Meeting of Belfast AUT will take place on 23rd June at 1 p.m. in room W110, staircase C, Lanyon Building. At this meeting we will hear reports from the outgoing Officers and elect the bulk of the AUT Committee. (The rest are elected by constituency elections in at Christmas.) I therefore invite nomination for the following positions:
The Honorary Secretary
The Secretary for Local Issues
The Assistant Honorary Secretary
The Honorary Treasurer
The Membership Secretary
4 General Members
All the present incumbents are eligible for re-election. The duties of the various offices are laid down in the rules.
Nominations shall be made with the written consent of the nominee either by the Committee or by any two members of the Local Association. They should be sent to me by 4 p.m. on Wednesday 9th June.
Paul Hudson, Honorary Secretary