Belfast AUT Newsletter Issue no. 9 August 2001
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General Secretary

David Triesman is leaving in September to become General Secretary of the Labour Party. We wish him well and thank him for his services to AUT. David came to us from NATFHE, and he brought to us professionalism and a strong desire to develop political links. Unlike some General Secretaries, David has always concentrated on his own union and has presided over a growth in AUT membership and staff. His command of AUT Council has avoided many potential crises.

We now start the difficult task of finding a successor. By law, the final step in this process is an open election of a General Secretary in a ballot of the AUT membership. The other steps are still to be decided, but we will probably follow the same procedure as last time. This would involve advertising the post, and shortlisting by a small group of AUT National Executive and representatives of AUT Council. These representatives and the whole of AUT National Executive then interviews the shortlisted candidates with the aim of producing a Preferred Candidate (if any). The Preferred Candidate would them go forward to the election with the endorsement of the National Executive. However, other candidates can be nominated by AUT members so the election could be contested. (It was last time.) Because of the drawn out process, we are unlikely to have a new General Secretary until at least Christmas, or Easter if the election is contested. In the meanwhile, one of the Assistant General Secretaries will act up. Locally, it is business as usual with Belfast AUT.

AUTís President, Alan Carr, said, "We will be sad to see David leave the AUT. He will be missed by the executive, staff and, above all, the members and has been an excellent General Secretary during his eight years with the association. The association considers David to have been a superb ambassador for higher education. He has succeeded in raising the profile of universities and protecting and promoting the interests of staff as well as contributing to trade union unity. We offer him our congratulations on the new job and are sure that the Labour Party has made a very good choice."

We also send our best wishes to Alan Carr of the Open University in Belfast for his recovery after serious illness. Alan is just completing a near two year stint as National President having stepped in after the death of David Green.

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The Gender Pay Gap

Despite all the pious words, the gender pay gap for full-time academics has widen slightly in the last five years. National AUT has analysed pay data provided by the Higher Education Statistics Agency for full-time staff on teaching-and-research contracts, teaching-only contracts and research-only contracts in UK Higher Education. In 1995 the average salary for females was 85% of that for males, while in 2000 it was 84%. These averages do not attempt to correct for differences in age profile, but these differences have probably decreased over time. The report is on the AUT website aut.org.uk

Data for Northern Ireland institutions are reproduced below. QUB is on the national average at 84%. Also of interest are the figures for the University Colleges; St Maryís and Stranmillis pay their female academics an average salary higher than that in QUB, and Stranmillis also pays its male academics an average salary higher than that in QUB.

Northern Ireland

Average salary of full-time academic staff

Female

Male

Overall

Female as % of male

University of Ulster

£26,179

£31,894

£30,009

82

The Queen's University of Belfast

£27,504

£32,921

£31,273

84

St Mary's University College

£28,152

£32,524

£31,093

87

Stranmillis University College

£31,556

£33,552

£32,761

94

Northern Ireland Institutions Total

£26,999

£32,474

£30,734

83

UK Overall average salary

£27,240

£32,274

£30,628

84

 

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Staff Retiring Before March 2003

Such staff (and anyone dying in service before that date) could lose out because the phased nature of the latest pay deal would mean that their pensionable salary would be less than if the award had been paid in full on the settlement date. The agreement recommends to institutions that this does not happen, and many are paying such staff 5.1% unphased from 1 April 2001. This is approved by USS. The initial response from QUB management has not been positive, but we will press them on this. Please let us know if you would be affected.

We would also remind any member who is retiring or leaving soon to contact us about your membership. If you are going to another UK university, we can transfer your membership. If you are retiring, there is an incentive to act now: if you become a Retired Member by 31 August and have 15 years full membership then you pay nothing. If you become a Retired Member after that date there is a subscription to be paid ó see below.

Paul Hudson

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Subscription Rates 2001-02

The table below sets out subscription rates for the coming year. The number of subscription levels for Full Members has been reduced from four to three. There is now only a single rate for members who are paid at or above the new Lecturer Minimum (£20,267 p.a. from 1 September 2001).

There are two parts to your subscription: a national subscription which accounts for just under 90% of the total, and a local subscription. The national subscription is determined by AUT Council and funds the national organisation. There is a small increase on last yearís rates to take account of inflation but, more significantly, the national subscription has gone up by 24p per month for all levels of Full Member subscription to fund a new Legal Protection at Work Scheme for members which will provide legal representation in some circumstances. Leaflets about the scheme are being prepared, but meantime details are available at <http://www.aut.org.uk/members/circularshtml/la7047.html>. Locally, we have some reservations about the scheme: prompt, sensible intervention by the local AUT is nearly always more effective than bringing in lawyers. However, the schemeís introduction recognises that not all local associations provide the support for personal cases that Belfast AUT does here. Regardless of our reservations, 24p per month represents very good value for money and access to the scheme is yet another reason for being an AUT member. The local subscription, which accounts for just over 10% of your total subscription, funds the activities of the local association. The accounts for 2000-01 will be presented to a General Meeting in November and will show how your money is used. Suffice it to say here that our expenditure is very modest, we have accumulated a healthy "war chest", and we are able to maintain the local subscription at last yearís levels.

Some members also choose to make a contribution to the AUTís political fund. The amounts involved are very small ó just over £1 per year even at the highest subscription rate. The political fund contribution is part of the national subscription in GB where members are included automatically and have to opt out if they object to making the contribution. In Northern Ireland, members have to opt into the political fund contribution and you can do so by asking Belfast AUT office (ext 3256) for a form. There has been much in the press recently about unions withdrawing their contributions to the Labour Party in protest at its plans to privatise parts of the public sector. AUTís Political Fund cannot be used to support any political party. It is used to pay for our Parliamentary Officer who maintains close links with all MPs. It is also used fund our lobbying and campaigning on Higher Education issues where it might be legally construed as political campaigning. For this reason our hands could be tied if we did not have a healthy Political Fund.

 

Monthly Subscriptions

Annual Subscriptions

 

Without Political Fund

With Political Fund

Increase on last year

Without Political Fund

With Political Fund

Increase on last year

Full Rate

£10.68

£10.77

£0.59

£128.16

£129.24

£7.08

Reduced 1

£6.48

£6.53

£0.45

£77.76

£78.36

£5.40

Reduced 2

£2.89

£2.91

£0.33

£34.68

£34.92

£3.96

The Full Rate subscription is for those who are paid not less than the Lecturer Minimum (£20,267 p.a. from 1 September 2001, or £20,470 from 1 March 2002).

Reduced 1 subscription is for those who are paid not less than half but less than the whole of the Lecturer Minimum (£10,1334 ó £20,267 p.a. from 1 September 2001, or £10,234 ó £20,470 from 1 March 2002).

Reduced 2 subscription is for those who are paid less than half of the Lecturer Minimum (less than £10,1334 p.a. from 1 September 2001, or £10,234 from 1 March 2002).

Reduced 1 or 2 are often appropriate for those who retire but have part-time employment in the University for which they require cover.

Attached Members pay £2.65 per month (plus £0.02 if paying the Political Fund). Attached Members registered as unemployed and Attached Members who are members of the NI Assembly pay no subscription, as do Full Members on unpaid parental or family responsibility leave.

For members who pay monthly, the new rates will come into effect in September. For members who pay annually, the annual deduction at the new rate will be made in October.

If you have joint AUT membership with RCN, RCM, MSF or some other trade-union, the AUT component of the subscription will change along the lines above at the appropriate date. If you want to know the exact amount please contact AUT HQ.

To be a Retired Member those who retired on or after 1 September 2001 must make an annual payment of £27 (including the Political Fund) or £26.76 (excluding the Political Fund) to the national AUT. This is to cover the cost of publications and handling pension matters as well as developing new services for pensioners. We charge Retired Members no local subscription. Members who become Retired Members before 1 September 2001 will continue to qualify for free membership.

Susan Harte, Honorary Treasurer

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Tax Returns

You should be aware that you are entitled to claim tax relief on two-thirds of the national element of your AUT subscription (excluding the Political Fund) under "Professional fees and subscriptions". Our subscription year runs from 1 September so the tax year takes in five months at 1999-2000 rates and seven months at 2000-01 rates. If you moved between subscription rates you need to check your pay-slips, but for most members the amount that you can claim relief on is set out below:

 

1999-2000 national element

5/12

2000-01

national element

7/12

National element in 2000-01 tax year

2/3 of national element

Full Rate

£100.44

£41.85

£105.84

£61.74

£103.59

£69.06

Reduced 1

£60.24

£25.10

£63.24

£36.89

£61.99

£41.33

Reduced 2

£25.44

£10.60

£26.76

£15.61

£26.21

£17.47

Donít forget to claim other professional subscriptions related to your work. Under "other expenses and capital allowances" you can try claiming for books and software bought for your work, and many of you may be able to claim the cost of maintaining a study at home. Details of how to claim were given in the April Newsletter and more information will be in the Memberís Handbook issued in the autumn.

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New Legal Protection at Work Cover

Bringing in lawyers is rarely the best way to solve a memberís problems; it often results in management becoming formal and defensive, it has been slow and it has been expensive. Local association officers can usually deliver more through their network of contacts and with less stress on the member. However we do sometimes take advice on the legal situation, whether a tribunal etc. case is viable, and the deadlines for this. But, unlike Belfast AUT, many Local Associations are so short of experienced officers that they cannot cope. This is why AUT has launched its Legal Protection at Work Scheme which is fast and economical. If the employer threatens disciplinary or similar action, or if you feel that you have been subject to bullying, harassment or discrimination, you can have advice and representation. Every Full Member, in relation to their employment that qualifies them for membership, will have immediate representation in all cases where there is legal merit.

The new scheme will provide legal advice and, if necessary, legal representation at hearings within the institution. (Legal processes outside the institution will be handled by our present legal aid scheme.) A member experiencing difficulties should first contact their Local Association. They will discuss with the member the best approach to solving the problem and the resources they can offer. If the Local Association thinks that the new scheme will be useful, they will send details to the Regional Official. Members can appeal to the Regional Official or approach him/her initially. Regional Officials will either advise the member to use an alternative approach or will, within three working days, forward the case to Thompsons (the solicitors running the scheme). A member who does not want to take the alternative approach can still send the case to Thompsons.

Thompsons will consider the case and may decide to act. If they consider the case has no legal merit the member can ask for a discussion between the Regional Official and the Thompsons partner, but their decision will be final.

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Promises, Promises

The following commitments were made by the local parties in their 2001 Election Manifestos:

Ulster Unionist Party

"The UUP would like to see adequate grants to remove the burden of student debt and we believe that students should not be expected to pay their own tuition fees."

SDLP

"secure additional funding to raise further the level of student financial support available Ö ensure the financial independence of all young adults in full-time education or training while targeting available resources at those most in need; in particular, mature students, people with disabilities, those from lower-income backgrounds."

DUP

Sinn Fein

PUP

"We demand a full return to Student Grants, the abolition of the iniquitous loan scheme Ö"

At the UK level, Tony Blair stated that:

"The hon. Gentleman is right to draw attention to the fact that we need more resources in further and higher education which is, of course, why we are putting that money in. However, our priority during the first few years was to get the money into nurseries and primary schools. In the second term, if we are elected, we also want to get money into secondary schools and universities."

Labourís election manifesto clearly states that:

"It is time for an historic commitment to open higher education to half of all young people before they are 30, combined with increased investment to maintain academic standards."

A similar commitment was made in Labour's Education Manifesto:

"We will continue to provide universities with the funds they require to maintain quality while expanding access. University funding will increase by £1.7 billion over the six years to 2003-04 Ė an 18 per cent real terms increase over that period. This year, funding per student is rising for the first time in 15 years. There will be further substantial investment in universitiesí research infrastructure. Expansion is no longer taking place at the expense of quality, as it did throughout the 80s and 90s."

"Universities will receive £170 million a year by 2003-04 to recruit and retain the key staff they need to improve the quality of teaching and learning. We will also introduce £5,000 Ďgolden hellosí for new lecturers in shortage subjects."

Paul Hudson

© 2001 Belfast Association of University Teachers
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