Following discussion at the BUCU away day in June 2013, we agreed that we would seek to increase participation in the union and encourage negotiations to be led by (committee) members as close to the issue at hand as possible.
The following is therefore an attempt to sum up the discussion we held, and put together a list of organising aims/principles, as a guide for activity in 2013-14:
1. Draw up a list of teams of reps in each Department, School and College (including Professional Services/Aston Webb).
2. Attempt to work on the basis that those rep teams will be responsible for making themselves known and accessible to members within their Department, School and College. This to include a meeting for members to raise and consider how to address issues, at least once a year, and ideally once per term – so that each team is aware of key issues and the views of members.
3. In terms of negotiations on College-wide issues in particular, we anticipate that there would be a group of reps who will coordinate between themselves and report on issues in the College, and also be a site of first contact for negotiations with the Head of College/College Board.
4. We anticipate that the branch newsletter will have an update from each College (including Professional Services/Aston Webb) – i.e. 6 pages – that will sum up ongoing issues/campaigns for each of those; and will be largely drafted by the group of reps for that College.
5. In areas of the University where there is a lack of reps, the role will be taken by members of the branch committee – the branch president in the first instance – whose longer term aim will be to develop rep teams in those areas.
6. In order to avoid tensions between reps and immediate management within their School/College, we will encourage the principle that negotiating teams will include at least one member of the branch committee not from that College, with that member potentially taking the lead in the negotiations, in order to achieve a degree of distance between reps and their immediate ‘line manager’.
7. In terms of relations between the local reps and the branch committee – we hope that many of the reps will also be committee members, and that there will be an open dialogue between the reps and the committee.
8. All formal decision making powers remain at the level of the branch committee, which is also responsible for oversight of local reps and ensuring that activities are within the scope of agreed branch positions.
9. On University-wide issues, we seek to move towards having a negotiating lead on an issue-by-issue basis.
10. For 2013-14 the branch president has 50% facility time (i.e. 2.5 days per week) – however, it is agreed that one of the key roles for the year is to try and develop the more localised rep system outlined above, which in principle could then lead to a greater dispersion of the facility time for 2014/15 – i.e. the aim is to reduce the size of the branch president workload, and therefore the necessary facilities time. The aim for the reduced branch president role in the future would be more focused on coordinating the branch agenda and activities, and ensuring that there is clear communication between the local rep teams, and branch committee, and across the University.
11. In order to improve communications with branch members, and to improve knowledge about ongoing issues within the branch and the University, the committee will send out an update of issues that they have been dealing with for that week, every week. This will be done on a trial basis for term 1 (2013-14) and then continued if the branch committee believe it has been successful.