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Joint statement from University and UCU

Paul Hatcher and Robert Van de Noort

Dear colleagues,

We are writing to introduce a body of work currently being undertaken jointly by the University and the Reading branch of the University and Colleges Union (UCU).

Through a sub-committee of the University and UCU Joint Negotiating Committee, we are discussing a number of claims brought to the committee’s attention by the UCU (see here: where there has been agreement that progress can be made through local negotiation.

Our discussions centre on three substantive items (as described within the UCU claim);

i.         Precarious contracts of employment;

ii.        the gender pay gap; and,

iii.       grade drift.

We are making early progress on item (i) above, with a small joint working group looking closely at the arrangements for the employment of sessional staff. We are close to agreeing a common understanding on a new framework to regularise the deployment and payment of sessional staff, in order to provide, wherever possible, more employment security and a better way of remunerating hours worked. We are currently seeking information from Schools to better understand the type and scope of marking and assessment work that sessional staff may be called upon to perform. This work has been informed by recommendations made by a University working group with UCU’s involvement that reported on similar matters in 2018.

In respect of item (iii) above we are exploring concerns raised by some staff that they are being expected to perform duties that are above and beyond the normal expectations of the role to which they were appointed. These discussions will also be informed by the work carried out by a University working group looking at the position of Teaching Fellows (employed at Grade 6) and the opportunities that exist for promotion and career progression.

Both items above require the gathering and analysis of significant information and data, and from time to time we may need to ask for some of your assistance in progressing matters.

As colleagues may be aware the University, in common with other large employers, is now required to report annually on the gender pay gap that exists. The report published in March 2018 (which reflects data at a snapshot date of 31 March 2017) can be viewed here. The University’s next annual report will be published at the end of March 2019. Through our local negotiation, we will be exploring ways in which the existing gender pay gap can be narrowed, building upon the various strategies and interventions that have already been put in place.

It is important of course to stress that these are negotiations between the University and UCU.  Both sides are committed to achieving successful outcomes and to reaching an agreed settlement of Reading UCU’s local claim; and to minimising any areas in which compromises are found to be necessary.

The sub-committee is meeting very regularly (with meetings every three weeks and informal meetings in between), and we are aiming, in so far as it may be possible, to reach agreement on a number of items in time for new arrangements to be in place for the 2019-20 session.

We will keep you informed of progress as these discussions continue.


Professor Robert Van de Noort                                                Dr Paul Hatcher

Vice-Chancellor                                                                        President, Reading UCU 

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