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Update on UCU ballot and next steps

Professor Robert Van de Noort

This message from Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Van de Noort has been sent to all colleagues at the University

Dear colleagues,

As you already know, after a thorough consultation process with representatives from UCU and the Staff Forum, the University put forward its final proposal to address a projected shortfall in income.

This proposal avoided the necessity for large-scale redundancies as part of our response to the financial impact of COVID-19. Instead, it proposed alternative measures including a three-year pay freeze and a temporary tiered pay-cut if our finances require this.

UCU colleagues held a ballot in respect of the proposals, and have now confirmed that their members locally have voted in favour of accepting the University of Reading ‘Consultation Group – final proposal’ and ‘Memorandum of Understanding’:

Accept: 62.4% (340)
Reject: 37.6% (205)
Total: 545/844 (65% turnout)

The collective support from the UCU and the Staff Forum in developing this proposal through the consultation process is very much appreciated, not least because I acknowledge it requires some significant sacrifices to ensure that the University remains financially viable.

I am writing now to give you a brief indication of next steps.

It is most important to note that nothing yet is set in stone, and the agreement provides for early and ongoing reviews of our financial position with your UCU and Staff Forum representatives, the first of which will be at the end of October. I should in particular stress that the proposed temporary pay reductions would not take effect until 2021 at the earliest.

I would like to emphasise that if the situation is sufficiently better than projected there will be opportunities to reduce them.

Some preparatory steps will need to be undertaken in parallel with this review process so that we are in a position to progress should we have to but these changes will not progress should our financial situation sufficiently improve. With that in mind colleagues in HR will be writing to you individually in due course to explain the temporary contractual changes that may be necessary. There will be further information to accompany the initial letters, in the form of FAQs and other relevant materials, and HR will be organising opportunities for question and answer sessions and, where required, individual meetings.

A further mitigation that was agreed with the UCU and the Staff Forum is that we would undertake a further round of voluntary redundancies as an alternative means to delivery savings. Separate information about this will also be available later this month so that the outcomes can be taken into account in the January 2021 review.

If you have any initial queries John Brady, the Director of Human Resources, would be happy to receive them by e-mailing

Kind regards,



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