Monthly update – March 2022

I’m delighted to share my first update on our branch activity since being elected as your Branch Secretary earlier this month. Going forwards, these updates will hopefully give you a sense of what we are doing month to month to support and represent you and your fellow Unison members at York St John University, and the wide range of roles and responsibilities we’re undertaking as part of that.

March 2022 – Summary

  • University and Unison jointly announce introduction of voluntary living wage at York St John
  • 30 members attended our AGM, where four new officers were elected
  • More than 63 hours spent in total on Union activity by branch officers
  • Two full training courses completed by branch officers
  • Consultation and feedback on two proposed University policies affecting YSJ staff
  • Key issues from members raised to University through Staff Joint Consultative Committee
  • One team of colleagues (catering) supported through a TUPE process to YSJ
  • Direct advice, individual representation & support provided to a number of branch members

March has been a hugely important transition month for our branch as we saw the election of four new branch officers, and said goodbye and thank you to long-standing colleague and Branch Secretary, Rob Hardy. The AGM was attended by 30 members (both in person and online) where a range of issues were discussed from the impact of Covid, through to ongoing concerns over workload and pay, and of course the big win for Unison in successfully lobbying the University to introduce a voluntary living wage, which will see a significant pay uplift for the lowest grade colleagues at YSJ.  Four new branch officers were elected in the form of Billy Jones (Branch Secretary), Wayne Osguthorpe (Health and Safety Officer), Heather Cooper (Women’s Officer) and Sam Pheby-Mcgarvy (Environmental Officer). A Branch Treasurer was also appointed at the meeting, but due to unforeseen circumstances following the AGM, has meant this role has again become vacant.

It is an area of real importance for the branch in being able to operate as efficiently as possible, and I would really encourage anyone who wants to have an informal chat about what the role might involve to please get in touch with me!

Since the start of March, branch officers have spent more than 64 hours on Union activity, averaging more than 12 hours a week, with time spent on training (38), meeting and supporting individual branch members (5), attending University meetings and participating in consultations (10), internal branch meetings (9), and branch admin (3). This work has involved consultation on two proposed new Policies relating to Agile Working at YSJ and the London Campus Relocation, where we have successfully lobbied for changes to be made on clauses we felt weren’t reasonable or had the potential to impact staff negatively.

We’ve also supported a key team at the University (catering) through a consultation as they transfer to YSJ employment terms of references, where direct Unison intervention and clarification regarding overtime will have a positive impact.

March also enabled us to represent some of your concerns directly to the University as part of our regular informal Staff Joint Consultative Committee meetings, attended by both senior HR colleagues and representative from UCU.

A range of issues have been shared and discussed from ongoing workload concerns, and dissatisfaction on pay, through to issues affecting some specific teams, including how annual leave is being applied, crowded workspace issues, and significantly low morale among staff.

Many of these are ongoing and will involve the branch getting back in touch with affected members to gather more information and evidence to help build a case for the University to act upon.

It’s important to note that this is our main forum for raising any issues affecting colleagues generally or specific teams and departments, so if there are issues or concerns affecting your team or colleagues please let us know so that we can raise these appropriately with the University on your behalf.

We have also supported a number of individual colleagues this month on specific circumstances relating to their own personal employment. This can sometimes be just asking a simple question or seeking clarification about where they stand or what their rights are in a specific situation, and we will always be here and on hand to provide that as best as we can.

All in all, I think we’ve made a steady and positive start to this new period for the branch, and the future looks bright with a host of new active and enthusiastic officers, and fully trained reps in place. But there is ALWAYS more we can do, and it relies on having more members interested in getting more involved. It’s a drum I know Rob Hardy banged for a long time, but it remains the same, the more officers and reps we have, the more we can achieve. I would really love to have a chat with anyone who thinks getting involved is something that might interest them.

I think that covers everything for this first month, I’ll be back again with an update at the end of April to provide some info on what we’ve been up over the month.

All the best



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