Purchase of annual leave scheme

Derek Dawson, Chair

Behind the scenes, the UCU representatives you elect invest time, effort and energy to support our members and maintain and improve the terms and conditions of our employment.

A recent success story arises from issues raised by members, department reps and a resultant motion passed at a general meeting: the Purchase of Annual Leave Scheme is now enhanced, making it more accessible and affordable to all staff (the deduction has been changed from 1/260th to 1/365 as of 1st October). Whilst there are other challenges ahead, this is yet another example of the positive influence the UCU voice exerts within the University.

Your engagement at general meetings in Old Aberdeen and Foresterhill; voting in ballots and using word of mouth to encourage non-members to join is essential to guarantee the continued success of our union.

A grass roots member recently expressed this sentiment in such a heartfelt way that I asked them to rephrase it as a message I could send to all members. See below…


"We’ve had a busy, energising, worrying, bonding start to the year with our highly-successful strike action over pensions; the work that all of you did to maintain and build momentum over those weeks was amazing. We should be proud of ourselves for what we accomplished. Nonetheless, within our branch, and the union at large, there are mixed opinions about how the strike ended, and the deal that was agreed upon through the national ballot. There are those who have confidence that the JEP process will help us protect USS pensions and there are others who feel let down and unrepresented by the UCU leadership. Some of you may be thinking, why even vote on the pay ballot that is open now? What did we actually get out of that amazing strike action of earlier this year? But it is still vital that, as union members, we exercise our right to vote on this pay ballot. At the most basic level, we must meet the 50% threshold so that we can take legal strike action or be confident that the majority of members are not prepared to take further industrial action.  But it is also important to demonstrate to UCU leadership (and our employers) that members are still mobilised and engaged, that pay and working conditions still matter to us (enough to vote on it one way or the other) and that the activism of earlier this year continues to revitalise the union.  Through casting our votes, we will reinforce to UCU leadership that this is a member-led union, that our views should shape our UCU leaders’ priorities and that we remain mobilised."

Protected conversations

Frederik Pedersen, Secretary & Juergen Bracht, Casework Officer

We have raised this issue with HR; at JCCRA (Joint Consultative Committee for Redundancy Avoidance); with the University Secretary; UCU HQ; discussed extensively at committee; and sent advice to members.  We have now written formally to the Senior Vice Principal outlining our concerns about threats of redundancy coupled with severance offers. We will discuss this issue further as a membership at the next GM on 19 Sept. We also intend to raise it when branch officers have an introductory meeting with the new Principal.

Campaigning & Other News...


Lecture Capture: Management have confirmed they are implementing a "Lecture Capture Policy" without negotiation with UCU, something we have respectfully disagreed with. We have recently sent a letter to the VP for Education outlining our concerns. More on this at the GM on 19 Sept so please attend if you can.

David Anderson, Committee Officer

Helen Martin, Learning Officer

Pay ballot:The national ballot for action to protect pay and equality is now open.  Please take a moment to check that we hold your correct current mailing address so that you don’t miss your voting pack which will arrive in the post.  You can check and amend your personal information via MyUCU.  It is imperative that all members cast their vote so that we can be sure of passing the 50% turnout threshold required by the Trade Union Act 2016.  In the USS ballot, 69.8% of members in Aberdeen voted giving us the 5th best turnout in the UK.  We want to do even better this time and a local rep will be in touch in a few weeks to ask whether you have voted yet (but not how you voted) as we're keeping a central tally.

Andrew Macgregor, Branch organiser


Policy Reviews: Our branch reps attend regular policy review meetings. Do let us know if you have a special interest in any of the policies coming up soon as we are always glad to get feedback and assistance from members with relevant expertise! *Discipline*Appeals*9 Day Fortnight

*Internationalisation*Stress*Pets on Campus*Purchase of Annual Leave*Flexible Working*Special Leave*Overseas Nationals*Paternity/Co-Maternity*Parental Leave*

*Maternity*Adoption*Change Management Protocol

Mike McConnell, Policy Officer


Health & Safety Reps: We have recently realigned our H&S reps structure, with a named UCU safety rep for each school and three across Professional Services. Please see https://www.abdn.ac.uk/ucu/people.

Ernesto Compatangelo, H&S Officer


Equality, Diversity & Inclusion: We are organising a series of events throughout the year round the themes of EQUALITY DIVERSITY & INCLUSION and will be advertising dates and details.

Sola Kasim, EDI Officer


Workload & Stress: We have had an increase in the number of casework requests related to workload and stress.  We are using the national UCU "It's your time, let's get it back" campaign as a framework to raise the issue of workload and stress with management.

Adam Price, Workload Officer

Ernesto Compatangelo, H&S Officer


Branch Action Plan for 2018-19: We had a well-attended branch planning meeting with committee/dep reps and have put together some suggested priorities for 18/19 (see below).  These will be discussed at the GM on 19 Sept so please come along and let us know what you think! 

Syrithe Pugh, Communications Officer


New challenges

  • Transnational Education (TNE)

  • Online Learning

  • Lecture Capture

  • Financial Sustainability


Improving conditions

  • Support National "Action for USS" Campaign

  • Support National "Fair PAY Equal PAY in HE" Campaign

  • Support National "It's your time" Workload Campaign

  • Policy Improvement

  • Improving Casework

  • Tackling Casualisation


Building the branch

  • Membership engagement

  • Communication

  • Recruitment

  • Improving Relationships

  • Health & Safety


USS one-to-one consultations: UCU’s national Pension Support Official, Chris Mason (a pensions expert and former financial adviser), will be in Aberdeen on Wed 26 and Thu 27 September. As we have had a couple of last minute cancellations we can now offer members the last remaining spaces for a free 15-minute pension consultation with Chris.  These will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis so let Susan know ASAP if you would like one of the last appointments and she will confirm which times/locations are still available (ucu@abdn.ac.uk)

David Watts, Pensions Officer