How to turn an Inclusion Report into an Exclusion Report

Nearly two years ago Queen Mary comissioned a report into racism and other equalities issues at Queen Mary. Last summer the ‘Inclusion Report’ with appendices containing testimonies from members of staff was finally produced and presented to the Equality Diversity and Inclusion Steering Group. However by the time it was made available to staff, these appendices containing essential (and damning) testimonies had been removed. In October QMUCU and Unison wrote to the Chair of the EDISG requesting that the Inclusion Report be published in full. The response came back that the testimonies in the appendices could not be published because of issues of ‘anonymity’. QMUCU responded urging once more that the report should be published in full and that contributors had given informed consent. In the meantime, an FOI was submitted. QMUCU also published testimony from staff that was strikingly similar, from its own gatherings organised by QMUCU Equalities Reps.

Finally after several months of stalling, the full report has now been published by Queen Mary and can be found on their HR pages. But look closely. There is something very different between the two versions (via FOI and on HR pages). While the FOI version includes the text boxes containing the damning testimony, albeit blacked out, Queen Mary’s version has simply removed the text all together. The Inclusion Report has become the Exclusion Report.

You can see the two different versions below.

  1. This is the Inclusion report published after the FOI request.

2. And below is an example of the Inclusion Report available on the QMUL HR webpages. A screenshot of page 32, a section in the appendices where it is reported that BAME staff feel that there is ‘a lack of institutional will to address racial inequalities at Queen Mary’.

Now compare this version to p.32 of the FOI version. No redacted text in the red box any more. All evidence of the redacted text containing testimonies describing racism and other examples of social injustice at Queen Mary has been removed. This is how to make the Inclusion Report an Exclusion Report.

Equalities Issues and Institutional Racism at Queen Mary

In 2019 QM UCU, in partnership with QM UNISON, initiated a series of gatherings for protected characteristic groups of staff and students at Queen Mary, in response to concerns about equalities at Queen Mary, the results of the Staff Survey, the BAME / gender pay gap report and Diversity and Inclusion manager Sandra Brown’s resignation email. The gatherings were well attended by staff from across departments, from both unions and none, as well as some students. The aim of the gatherings was to create a space were we listened to each other’s feelings and experiences regarding equalities at Queen Mary, and to draw up a list of actions that we want management to take and the respective unions to fight for. The findings were sent to the Chair of Council and Principal.

The following reports include testimonies from those who attended.

INSTITUTIONAL RACISM May 2019

29 May 2019 QMUCU and QM Unison organised a gathering for support and debate concerning institutional racism at Queen Mary. Queen Mary SU members also participated.

There were 26 Black, Asian, Global Majority, People of Colour from a wide variety of faculties and departments, academic and professional services. Considering the gathering was held during the exam period, Ramadan, school half-term and outside of a lunch hour, this was a good turn out of numbers.

An hour and a half was spent with people testifying to their individual experiences of institutional racism at Queen Mary, particularly at the Mile End Road campus. Below is a summary of points that repeatedly recurred and points where there seemed to be a general consensus of agreement. Some comments were made later by email:

Feelings of being Unhappy

There is a feeling of unhappiness with the situation regarding race at Queen Mary and that the institution has ‘regressed’ in terms of race equality

‘Recent events are ‘disturbing’

Many people articulated that they had not wanted to be seen as ‘dramatic’, ‘angry, or ‘playing the race card’ but kept asking themselves ‘is this racism?’ The reported being ‘made to think it’s in your head’, ‘Something’s not quite right here’. Many felt they did not know what to do.

‘I wasn’t sure what was going on. Am I paranoid?’ Was a recurring sentiment.

There was a conversation about subtle and explicit racism. Some said racism at Queen Mary is subtle. Some said racism is explicit (e.g. a comment such as ‘You only got this job because you are [an ethnic minority]’

‘People are allowed to get away with [racism] here like nowhere else; it is ‘one of the worst places to work.’

‘There is a culture of racism at Queen Mary’

‘Queen Mary is deeply racist. It’s hidden behind a smile.’

There is a desire for a BAME network and more gatherings. ‘Well done to everyone, it’s difficult to speak’ was stated. It was acknowledged that what was being discussed was depressing. Several times one person said how much ‘work’ it is for us as black and brown PoC staff and students. ‘We don’t get a day off’ from having to deal with racism.

Promotion and Recruitment

One of the key mechanisms institutional racism operates through is by blocking the career progression of BAME staff. One narrative of experience recurred many times:

Working one’s way up at Queen Mary and things appeared to be fine at first. Going for promotion (in many cases promotion for a job for which there were already ‘acting up’) was where things started to get difficult. Participants spoke of either not being shortlisted or not getting the job after being shortlisted. And when they requested feedback as to why they were not successful, the feedback was given reluctantly, it was minimal, or suspicious, from a white manager. Managers were not being transparent as to why they did not get the job. This would be followed by seeing a white person with less experience coming from outside Queen Mary and given the job they were already doing.

Watching everyone else [white colleagues] get promoted. Some said they are not applying for promotion anymore. One stated: ‘They’ve already made up their minds’. ‘I’m not going for promotion at this place until they deal with racism. I don’t trust them.’

Restructures

Restructures are a common occurrence at Queen Mary, particularly in recent years and cause much upheaval for staff. Institutional racism was seen in action during restructures. Staff reported experiences when they were asked to re-apply for your job, but didn’t get the job and were given no feedback, or comments that were limited or suspicious. Others reported instances where a department is restructured, and a white person on a lower grade than them is pushed up to a higher grade (on one case jumping several grades) but the black/Asian/ person of colour remains on the same grade, even though they have been in the job for far longer. There was also general feeling of being particularly vulnerable during restructures.

One person asked: Is this ‘unconscious bias’ or is it ‘malicious’? ‘I want to move up not sideways.’

Some said there are many interview panels that are not diverse or the same Black or Asian/PoC keeps being asked to be on the panel.

There was even a fear by some who were in a hiring position that if they hired a Black/Asian/Person of Colour woman she would be so bullied out of the job she would want to leave.

Workplace Experience

Workplaces were reported as being sites for bullying. ‘Horrible’ ‘pernicious’ behaviour was witnessed by many where complaints and ‘nit picking’ ‘undermining’ ‘wearing people down’ and ‘bullying’ was constantly being made by white women against Asian women.

The issues were ‘intersectional’ – gender and race discrimination are working together at Queen Mary. Many noted the resignations by black, Asian and people of colour in recent months. Many felt very isolated in all white teams, classes, committees, boards and panels.

People reported feeling that they were ‘withdrawing’ and ‘taking a step back’ from Queen Mary and being more ‘disengaged’ with the place, due to the struggles with racism they have faced.

Another said, ‘we are celebrated for being hard-working but we are the lowest paid.’

One person stated dissatisfaction with UCU Head Office regarding race.

Many referred to the email by Sandra Brown highlighting the institutional racism at Queen Mary and a race/gender discrimination case being taken against Queen Mary that had been allocated six days at tribunal.

Student Experience

There is a disjuncture in student grades. The so-called BAME attainment gap/’white privilege gap’ was discussed. BAME attainment gap was described as ‘blaming black people but not addressing white supremacy’.

There is a ‘white saviour’ syndrome [in teaching].

Being easily identifiable as a minority student and enduring racially discriminatory, patronising and belittling comments.

‘A person of colour teaching really changes your experience’. ‘I didn’t realise what a difference it makes until I had it.’

Racism from people who are ‘politically correct’. ‘It’s very frustrating’. ‘Post-colonial studies taught me a lot’. ‘It feels worse at Queen Mary than other colleges.’

‘Queen Mary is a massive facade. We are a very diverse population, we make the community. But what is the university doing for us? How are they using us?’

‘Queen Mary hide behing a black and brown facade’

‘It’s white, white, white in terms of lecturers…’

One [white] convenor of a post-colonial module focussed heavily on South Africa and did not mention the Caribbean.

‘I want to see PoC staff’

‘White lecturers in my department continue to foreground teaching materials by white people.’

‘I didn’t like being a student here at all. I felt isolated as the only black student in my year and having no black or Asian lecturers in my department. I hated coming in. I avoided it. I now work at Queen Mary and the feeling is the same. I am just here for the students.’

One also stated: ‘QMSU is a massive disappointment’ and discussed the lack of opportunities and space for black students, the lack of proper support for Black History Month and culturally insensitive meetings on sexuality.’

Management in/action and policies

It was felt that the changes around these issues are not working and that ‘excuses’ are being made by management. One person said that the policies are excellent at Queen Mary but there was a ‘disconnect’ with action.

‘You might as well burn the policies.’

Boards and committees seem powerless to make change. There was testimony of ‘calling people out’ on racism at Queen Mary and of nothing changing afterwards. Statistics giving evidence of structural racism at Queen Mary and across the sector were reported.

‘The organisation is more interested in ‘tick-boxing’ and everything is ‘geared to Athena Swan.’

‘Unconscious bias training is a waste of time. It doesn’t work. It’s a way of making white people feel better about themselves. You can’t be unconscious for 500 years. It’s the structures that need to change: starting with management’.

‘We need black and Asian people in Senior Management and higher academic levels.’

Senior white academics in my school have supported plans to avoid an open equal opportunity for the recruitment of fractional Professors through the back door using the Research Excellence Framework (REF) as an excuse. …I can show you an email sent around by the President and Principal who wrote there would be no ‘open process’ for these posts.

When you challenge a white male academic at Queen Mary on racism, he either tells you how hurt he is, or tells you how hard he is working. Next time I should ask, how much does it hurt? And where does it hurt you? Does it hurt in your pay packet? Does it hurt you – body and mind? Did it hurt your ancestors? And how hard have you been working? Did you break a sweat? Did you die working? Did you work for free? Like me? Right now?

Many of the issues raised above concur with the email distributed by Sandra Brown, the former Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, who recently resigned from Queen Mary. She emphatically cited ‘tick-boxing’ on addressing race and equalities and ‘institutional racism’ as the reason for her departure. The email and these comments should be studied by all who care about our university and who care about ending racism. There is a clearly a problem at Queen Mary.

Queen Mary, University of London UCU / UNISON Equalities Lunch Gatherings 

Oct / Nov 2019 

The following are more notes from the Black and Asian, People-of-Colour, LGBTIQ and Women’s gathering of staff and students held in October and November 2019

People shared the following experiences and feelings: 

Recurring experiences of being passed over for promotion: 

• ‘I have held senior roles in other places. But here I apply and other people get them. I ask why’. 

• ‘I saw another successful application. I copied it. I didn’t even get an interview. It was weird’. 

Experiences of isolation: 

• ‘I wonder where all the other People-of-Colour are?…’ 

• ‘There are only a few people I can talk to. When I bring things up [racism] its like a dirty word’. 

• ‘If you act as individuals it’s hard. There’s power in a group’. 

• ‘I feel I am not able to find a voice to be heard. I’m a needle in a haystack.’ 

BAME / Asian / PoC staff being given ‘equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)’ work: 

• Two colleagues are part of a grant that is supposed to be about diversity and inclusion and they expressed concern that ‘our work is being appropriated’. 

• ‘We become the one having to do the work on race. It gets harder and harder. I don’t always want to be the one to do that work’. 

• ‘It took us a while to even realise we had been siloed into that work diversity work… There was just this assumption that we would do the work and the leader looked at two white men and said “don’t feel under any obligation to do this.”’ 

• People expressed ‘anxiety about confrontations’. 

• One colleague described being new to Queen Mary and having a ‘difficult transition period due to ‘being put on an EDI committee with any consultation’. 

Resignations: 

• There have been widespread resignations by BAME staff e.g. marketing department. 

• Head of Diversity, Equality and inclusion, Sandra Brown’s resignation email was referred to several times. 

Student experiences: 

• ‘I haven’t had a chance to just be a student yet’ 

• We want ‘more diverse reading lists… Black History Month… teachers are not doing enough’. 

• ‘Students care about what teachers are going through’. 

• ‘There are foundation students that need support but the university is only interested in pre-sessional students – because of money’. 

• ‘Chinese students are so de-humanised here.’ 

• A colleague told the story of a Chinese student who got a first in their dissertation. The second marker failed the work. The third marker failed the work. The Chinese student committed suicide. The university showed no compassion toward the family. 

International experiences: 

• ‘I am not a UK / EU citizen… I face institutional suspicion at moments when I have to prove my right to be here. There is a threat of deportation. Queen Mary is incredibly unhelpful and unaware of visa procedures… People who are  supposed to give advice don’t not knowing enough. I was given incorrect advice that could have had consequences’. 

Feelings about the institution as a whole: 

• ‘People have been supportive but I’m insulated from the rest of the university’. 

• It [racism] makes me feel I don’t want to be here’. 

• ‘There is a critically bad bullying culture at Queen Mary’. 

• ‘Women-of-colour, intersectionally, get bullied the worst’. 

• ‘All they care about is reputation while we battle with our mental health’. 

• ‘Imagine if someone understood us and created something for us. It would make money, increase reputation… We can connect with the BME students’. 

The gathering concluded with a summary of demands below. 

We demand: 

• An immediate response to Diversity and Inclusion Manager Sandra Brown’s resignation email, from the President and Principal of QMUL. 

• A public statement acknowledging that QMUL is institutionally racist. 

• Creation of a Black, Asian and People-of-Colour (BAPoC) only space for staff and students at QMUL. 

• Establishment of a migration service that ‘actually works’ i.e. is fit-for-purpose and includes legal advice, loans and assistance. 

• An open ended counselling / therapy service at QMUL that includes counsellors / therapists who are Black / PoC. 

• An Engagement Retention and Success team that is lead by managers who are PoC / Black and more Senior Managers who are Black / PoC. 

• The task and Finish group on equality must be made open. 

• Equality Diversity and Inclusion committees must be instated in all schools and be made transparent and open – the minutes must be released.  

Notes from the WOMEN’S GATHERING of staff and students 

People shared the following experiences and feelings: 

Discrimination against mothers at Queen Mary: 

• People shared recurring experiences of becoming mothers and managers insinuating that ‘your priority has changed’, overhearing comments to male staff that questioned women’s ‘ability and sustainability. 

• One person described being told to bring their children on a work trip abroad. 

The colleague looked on the Home Office website and it stated not to take children. She was then told to ‘put them somewhere’. 

• Women described being given late finishing and early start teaching times (before / after crèche opening times). 

• Sometimes facing this kind of treatment from women managers as well. 

• ‘Flexible working doesn’t exist’. 

• ‘I had to go 0.8. There is no flexible working’. 

• There is a perception that as mothers you are ‘not loyal’. 

• ‘Loyalty is questioned even when you have a child with a high temperature’. 

• ‘I needed to take a child for health issues and was told to make up the time on Saturdays’. 

• ‘University childcare is over half my salary – £1400 a month! Other universities are subsidized’. 

• One reported a male manager saying to her: ‘Well if you worked in the city, it’s company first and children second’. 

• ‘It’s been made clear that I’ve been overlooked for a position because I have children. I’m expected to work Summers, evenings, early mornings. I have to make up the hours’. 

Bullying and harassment of female staff at QMUL: 

NB: Also see the Affinity at Work Report. 

• ‘It’s been a nightmare’ ‘The bullying and harassment is so bad that I’m afraid to come to work. I’m afraid. I’m in a relatively high position. I have been listening to many women who have been harassed for many years. Harrassers know I am listening. They do these things to silence people. … There is a wide range of things: inappropriate physical actions. Horrible treatment by PhD advisor to student. It makes me wonder if people dealing with maternity issues even know the law of the country… Verbal harrassment. Maternity – legal issues. …. People giving up hope of promotion. Left silently. Forgotten in promotion. People engaging in inappropriate behaviour are in control of promotion. I am very concerned about my personal… I am afraid for my personal safety’. 

• ‘There is very little trust in grievance procedures’. 

Structural issues: 

• ‘I am new to the university. I’m aware that I’ve come into ‘a situation’. I’m increasingly aware of structural issues. I’m very junior. There are issues around resources for equality and inclusion.’ 

• ‘Micro aggressions are becoming more apparent. It’s not unique to Queen Mary. But you didn’t think you’d find out about it as quickly as you have’. 

Student experience: 

• Students feel very passionate about the things that were said in Sandra Brown’s email. Micro-aggressions always come back and affect the students. It affects them as well as support staff.’ 

On casualisation: 

• A lot of the issues that have been raised today affect casualised staff such as  who gets what teaching work and who gets paid what….’ 

The gathering concluded with a summary of demands below. 

We demand: 

• A flexible policy on maternity. The policy is not working and needs to be started from scratch. 

• A legal investigation into endemic sexual harassment at QMUL. 

• A revision of the grievance policy – it is not fit for purpose. 

• Parental leave for sick children needs to be addressed. 

• Casualisation to be addressed: TA hours are not matching contracts. 

• Action not just policies. 

Notes from the LGBTIQ+ GATHERING of staff and students 

People shared the following experiences and feelings: 

Various comments: 

• One person shared about the LGBTQI Network. It is a small group. They are trying to get a special section in the library with a permanent collection of LGBTQI books. They’re looking for donations of books. 

• ‘Rainbow flags around have been positive and made people feel welcome’. 

• ‘There are some areas of progress: e.g. Trans policy’ but we need to address the situation of ‘single fathers and care givers’. 

• HR people invested in equalities work really hard, burn out and leave. It’s a cycle’. 

Some reported not having bad experience but: ‘People suffer in silence at Queen Mary’. 

In/visbility: 

• ‘Bi-visibility. Being straight passing. How do we have conversations and be more visible? How can one be more whole self at QM?’ 

• ‘People make assumptions that one is straight. Do I need to tell people? There are still many social assumptions based on the way you appear.  Feeling guilty for not being out enough. Am I out and proud all the time? Until you hear something negative and then – ah. The pressure then to say something’. 

The gathering concluded with a summary of demands below. 

We demand: 

• A directive from management that personal questions and assumptions in relation to partnerships, identity, family set-up, children etc. should not be made in the work place. 

• An LGBTIQ+ counseling service on campus. 

• More LGBTIQ+ visibility, events, and ports of call for support on campus. 

• Centralised funding for equalities work. 

• Teaching materials (e.g. in languages) needs to be reviewed to challenge heteronormative language. 

• Library resources regarding gender identity need to be updated. 

• The status of single fathers must be the same as single mothers. Legislation should be the minimum baseline at QM not the standard. 

• Staff in equalities need to be given more support and need to work in bigger teams to prevent burn-out and resignations. 

• The ever increasing workload in all departments needs to be addressed. 

• Senior management need to address (and not massage) the results of the  staff survey, bullying, harassment and institutional racism. There is denial and change needs to come from the TOP. 



Only 3 % of UCU members have full confidence in senior management’s response to the Covid-19 Pandemic

There was a great response to the Covid Attitudes Survey which closed last week. Over 360 members of staff completed the survey, which makes it the largest exercise in gauging staff opinion since the start of the pandemic. 

The results show widespread overwork, stress, fear, and lack of confidence in senior management. But while the survey reveals some worrying results, it also shows the remarkable unity and determination among staff for things to improve.

Building on this strength of feeling, the next step of the campaign to defend staff during the pandemic is the petition for a Covid payment of £200 for each member of staff before the end of the year. 

This is the bare minimum owed to staff to reflect the overwork, the additional costs of working at home, and the risks taken by those working on campus during the pandemic so far. The Open University have just announced a £500 payment for ALL staff to show their appreciation. The survey results show that these pressures reflect the widespread experience of Queen Mary staff. It is time for senior management to do something to address them.

The aim is to have 500 members of staff sign the petition, and we will only release the signatory names when we reach that number. You can sign the petition and share this link to help reach this goal. All staff includes hourly-paid staff and staff on fixed-term contracts, including postgraduate researchers who, on top of teaching, also are under pressure to keep producing research ‘as normal’ on tight deadlines.

Key Findings are below and you can access the full report here:

Stress and overwork

72% said they are working more hours since the start of the pandemic. Almost half (44%) say they are working significantly more hours. This is in a sector which already had a severe workload issue before the pandemic.

83% said they are facing increased stress and other adverse mental health effects since the start of the pandemic. Almost half (45%) say they are facing significantly more stress.

There was a clear association between those reporting increased workload and those reporting increased stress.

Views on Returning to Campus

72% feel either very or somewhat unsafe returning to campus. 44% say they feel very unsafe, 28% somewhat unsafe. 13% say they feel somewhat safe, and only 7% said they felt very safe.

86% agreed that no staff member should be forced to return to campus if they don’t believe it is safe. Only 4% said they disagreed.

72% support moving teaching and services online wherever possible. Only 13% said they disagreed. This is the UCU national position.

78% believe that face coverings should be mandatory in all indoor campus spaces, including teaching rooms and multi-occupancy offices. This is the QMUCU position.

Lack of confidence in management

Only 3% said they have full confidence in the management response to Covid. 11% said they were somewhat confident, 19% were neither confident nor unconfident, 39% said they had very little confidence, and 26% said they had no confidence at all. 

Working toward an anti-racist university, this Friday 13 November 1.30-3pm

QMUCU members are invited to join an Anti-Racism Training and Workshop organised by QMUCU Friday 13 November at 1.30pm London time.

In 2019, QMUL’s own Diversity and Inclusion Manager resigned from her post in frustration at the university’s ‘tick box mentality’, its watered-down commitments to equality, and the utter failure to tackle harassent and bullying on campus. QMUL, in her words, was ‘institutionally racist’.

Our Principal and other members of the senior management team continue to make loud gestures to equality and inclusion. They hide behind glossy promotional materials, PR slogans and accolades won through imperfect, surface-level readings of diversity on campus. Concerns raised repeatedly by staff and students about experiences of racism, discrimination, and abuse are absorbed into opaque bureaucratic procedures or ignored entirely. Reports are partly censored, and ‘bad news’ is suppressed.

We in QMUCU demand more from our place of work and study. We want to see the vast archive of criticisms and complaints transformed into meaningful structural change. Because we can’t rely on senior management for this to happen, QMUCU is planning a series of workshops on anti-racism in the university for the 2020-21 academic year. Together with activists and organisers, we will be offering practical advice and training for members and asking them to take these lessons into their Schools and Departments as well as into our unions, challenging institutional racism and building networks of care and solidarity.

The first of these workshops will take place Friday 13 November 1.30-3pm. This first training session aims at discussing ways of developing our union as an inclusive place and as a community which effectively enables members’ anti-racist work. We want to discuss and reflect on racism in the university, but also on who we, QMUCU members, are, and what we want to become.

The training will be led by Professor Gargi Bhattacharyya, Dr Akanksha Mehta, and Christopher Nicholas (UCU Equality support official for race, religion or belief). They will share their experiences of antiracist work, of engaging with students and local communities, and of working toward making the UCU an enabler of antiracist work in UK universities. A collective discussion will follow their presentations, and allow everyone to share their concerns, experience, knowledge and ideas about how to equip ourselves and how to best use the structure and resources of the branch to work toward an anti-racist university.

We will also be using this space to be in solidarity with Prof. Bhattacharyya as she is one of 11 colleagues at UEL facing forced redundancy, and hear more about what’s happening around the sector and how to mobilise with our colleagues.

The training will be held online and is open to all QMUCU members. Please register here.
Registration is open until Friday 13 November 12pm.

If you would like to join QMUCU’s anti-racism working group, or would be interested in collaborating on anti-racism work please contact qmucuarwg@gmail.com and we will get in touch. 

In solidarity

The QMUCU Anti-Racism Working group and the QMUCU Branch Committee

Statement of Solidarity with Prof Gargi Bhattacharyya

QMUCU statement of solidarity with Prof. Gargi Bhattacharyya, the other 11 staff members facing forced redundancies and all those threatened by UEL’s restructuring plans 

QMUCU has grown increasingly alarmed at the events unfolding at the University of East London since last summer where Covid-19 has been used as a pretext to restructure and roll out voluntary and forced redundancies, with more than 400 colleagues’ jobs being threatened. Critical race and gender scholars (as well as UEL UCU officers) are at the centre of the redundancies, so these cuts also represent a serious attack on critical scholarship – part of a current trend among European, US and UK policy makers and university managers. This is starkly illustrated by the decision to make Prof. Gargi Bhattacharyya redundant.

Prof. Bhattacharya is one of the UK’s most important and influential scholars, whose career has been foundational to the full range of social science disciplines. She has not only done essential work on racial capitalism, social reproduction and critical theory, she has contributed endlessly to support the careers and intellectual projects of her peers, early career colleagues, students and mentees. She has been integral to the lives of so many of us developing anti-capitalist and anti-racist work, in both our academic and grassroots practices, including offering training to our own UCU community at Queen Mary, while facing redundancy. We are both angry and shocked that this is happening, especially since Prof. Bhattacharyya is one of 11 colleagues targeted for forced redundancy, amidst debilitating cuts aimed at UEL’s most critical programmes.

We urge UEL to rethink their drastic restructuring plans and consider the lasting effects this will have on their students, their reputation and the larger academic community, which value their critical scholarship and expertise.  

Anti-racism workshop Fri 13 Nov, 1.30pm  with Prof. Gargi Bhattacharyya: QMUCU will be holding a workshop with Prof. Gargi Bhattacharyya on Friday, 13th November at 1:30 pm, with Akanksha Mehta (Goldsmiths) and Chris Nicholas (UCU), to develop our capacity for anti-racist organising at QMUL. We can also use this time to be in solidarity with Prof. Bhattacharyya, to hear more about what’s happening around the sector and how to mobilise with our colleagues, through building our union as an anti-racist space. 

For more details on what is happening at UEL and to get involved in the #SaveUEL campaign, please see this document.

And to register for the QMUL-UCU anti-racism training workshop, here’s the link:   

Solidarity,

QMUCU Anti-Racism Working Group 

UCU Special HE sector conference: protecting GTAs work and acknowledging PGRs as members of staff

At our last branch meeting, on September 16th, the branch approved, with none against, a motion to be submitted to the UCU special Higher Education sector conference (HESC) taking place on September 30th. This motion calls on UCU to include demands that Graduate Teaching Associates’ work occur on contracted basis in our national bargaining, and was prepared by PandemicPGRs, a cross-UK group of PGRs which was formed as a response to the crisis and its impact on the PGR community in the UK.

This motion was moved by QMUCU at the UCU HESC on September 30th, and successfully carried, alongside a clarification amendment made by UCU Sheffield. The carried motion reads as follows:

HESC notes that during Covid-19 GTAs were most at risk of job loss and uncertainty. These did not appear in statistics due to the nature of casual contracts. Further, UCU’s and Pandemic PGRs’ surveys revealed inter- and intra institutional disparities of contractual agreements across the UK. This lack of transparency and accountability is a key contributor of casualisation within the sector over which UCU is in dispute with the employers in its Four Fights campaign.

HESC resolves:

  • to include demands that GTA work occur on a contracted basis in our national bargaining
  • that GTA contracts include an appropriate workload allocation mechanism, guarantee that all GTAs are paid at the appropriate grade for the work they are conducting; receive paid training, and have access to the same rights and entitlements as all permanent members of staff
  • To ensure all labour is paid for what it is worth and ensure scholarships do not have an unpaid work requirement in line with UKRI policy.

QMUCU is also very happy to report that a motion to ‘Acknowledge postgraduate researchers as members of staff’, submitted by the University of Glasgow and also prepared collectively by PandemicPGRs, has been carried:

Covid-19 exposed the contradiction of PGRs being viewed as students rather than staff. Open letters revealed that like staff’s, PGRs’ work was affected by the pandemic, however, because of their student status PGRs were unable to access neither employer nor government support such as benefits and furlough. Instead of being paid for their work, PGRs pay to do the work on which Universities and companies’ profit. This is contrary to practice in other sectors (graduate training schemes) and countries, where PGRs would not be seen as students, but workers. The unpaid research labour of PGRs cements the expectation of unpaid labour throughout academic careers, which contributes to the workload and casualisation crisis in the sector.

HESC resolves to establish a principle that acknowledges original postgraduate research as labour like any other work at universities and resolves to campaign for PGRs to be recognised as members of staff.

For more on PandemicPGRs and its national campaigns, please follow @PandemicPGRs, sign up here , or contact Salomé Ietter (s.a.ietter@qmul.ac.uk), your QMUCU PGR representative. Please also reach out to our local PhD Organising group at QM for joining our campaigns and getting support @QueenMaryPhDs or here ().

For more on the UCU special HE sector conference, please visit: https://www.ucu.org.uk/hesc_sept20 or contact the QMUCU delegation to the conference. (ucu-coordinator@qmul.ac.uk)

Proposed Terms of Reference for working group on casualisation

Many postgraduate students and early career academics experience precarious and insecure conditions in their teaching and research work.

QMUCU want to change that. We have tried for many years to make progress on this. 

Below are our Proposed Terms of Reference for a Anti-Casualisation Working Group which we propose should form a sub committee of the Joint Consultative Form in order to negotiate a new way of working at Queen Mary so all staff are valued. The TofR are based on an already existing working group at SOAS. If you want to get involved then contact us via ucu-coordinator@qmul.ac.uk. This proposal is not the final version. We are waiting to hear back from the new Director of Human Resources and will keep you updated of any changes management wish to make.

Proposed Terms of Reference: 

Anti-Casualisation JCF Working Group

Purpose:

To replace fixed term contracts with secure, permanent job opportunities where applicable, improve working conditions for staff on fixed term contracts, and produce career development opportunities by creating pathways to permanent employment.

Objectives and Activities: 

To review:

  • the use of fixed term contracts for teaching and research staff to include, but is not limited to, reviewing the 2016 Assimilation Agreement for Demonstrators, Teaching Associates and Teaching Fellows (including their pay scales).
  • in reference to above to review the pay grade and scale currently allocated to fixed term teaching and research staff and their status as ‘academic’ staff.
  • the range of different job titles given to fixed term teaching and research staff, the processes by which Human Resources collects data on the employment of staff on fixed term contracts, and the way Human Resources issue contracts for these staff across the university.
  • the current policies outlining the use of fixed term contracts for teaching and research staff, including the efficacy of redeployment,  and appeals in relation to permanence claims and the renewal or ending of fixed term contracts.  
  • the processes monitoring and managing how work is advertised and allocated to fixed term teaching and research staff.
  • the use of PhD funding conditional on teaching, which implies that work which would normally be paid is not paid to the PGRs who sign up to the studentships in question (which have been discouraged by UKRI).
  • and investigate situations where unpaid teaching by Post Graduate Researchers is encouraged in some parts of the university.
  • and the different use of Teaching Fellow and Teaching & Scholarship contracts in Law and School of Languages and Linguistics and Film.
  • practices surrounding employment of Post Doctoral Researchers and other fixed term research staff to ensure terms and conditions reflect the new Research Concordat guidelines.
  • policies related to ensure staff on migrant visas are offered sufficient support to comply with Government guidelines related to Visa Regulations (e.g.Tier 2/4)

To establish:

  • improved policies to ensure equitable access to, allocation and management of contracts for fixed term teaching and research staff, including doctoral researchers, who may be offered work as part of their doctoral training and career development.[1] [2] 
  • clear career pathways to permanence that offer career development, training, support and other mechanisms for recognition, reward and career progression for staff on teaching and research contracts in coordination with the Academic Promotions Career Pathway review, with a particular focus on career development, career pathways, inclusion and agency, building on the work done to date on putting in place the Assimilation Agreement.
  • in reference to the above, to establish grade and spinal point integration to enable mobility and career progression.
  • clear policies of support to ensure staff can align with government visa regulations.

Membership:

  • a consultative panel of staff on all the forms of fixed term contract used by Queen Mary to include but not necessarily limited to: a Teaching Associate on a fixed term contract, a Teaching Associate on a permanent fractional contract, a Teaching Fellow on a fixed term contract, a Teaching Fellow on a permanent fractional contract, a lecturer on a fixed term contract (Teaching &Scholarship), a Postdoctoral Research Associate on a fixed term contract, a PhD student teaching without payment (e.g. as a result of the conditions of their PhD stipend).
  • Branch Secretary
  • Anti-Casualisation Rep x 2
  • Migrant/Tier 4 Rep
  • PGR Rep
  • Equalities Rep (LGBTQ/Disability)
  • Anti Racism Working Group Rep
  • UCU Regional Office Rep
  • at least one senior representative from HR
  • A management representative from Research and Innovation
  • A management representative from Student Experience: Teaching and Learning

Outputs and Timeframe:

  • An updated UCU-QMUL Fixed Term Contracts Agreement for fixed term teaching and research staff, integration of fixed term staff with permanent posts via a Queen Mary Academic Careers Framework, and other policies to be determined in order to produce a clear set of targets to improve conditions for those on fixed term contracts and introducing pathways to permanence in the short, medium and longer-term, in the context of the ongoing pandemic and ensuring no detriment. 
  • To work as a task and finish group to an end of December deadline, to be able to introduce agreed changes before the end of the academic year. 

FREE membership of UCU is available to PhD students , although do make sure you join in the right category to ensure you are able to access all the benefits of UCU membership. Joining gives you access to training and support, and you can take action with colleagues on issues that matter to you.

For more information or to get involved, contact the Anti-Casualisation Reps.

QMUCU branch members support the motion on collective grievance and ending the ‘recruitment freeze’

Please find below the latest QMUCU branch motion, passed at an all members branch meeting on 19 August 2020.

The Queen Mary branch of the University and College Union (QMUCU) notes  that:

  • QMUL states ‘that the overarching endeavour of the Queen Mary recruitment policy is to facilitate a transparent, fair and equitable recruitment process for both staff and candidate alike’.
  • A ‘recruitment freeze’ has been in place on contracts and contractual variations since March 23, 2020, unless approved by a panel.
  • At least 399 contracts have not been renewed or will end in redundancy on or before August 31 as a result of this freeze.
  • The process of ending these fixed term contracts has been followed inconsistently throughout the institution.
  • Colleagues who are legally entitled to permanent contracts because of their length of service have not had their claims heard or had them unfairly refused. 
  • The process of allocating work to fixed term staff for the next academic year (particularly in relation to Teaching Associates and Teaching Fellows) has not been transparent and has been inconsistently applied throughout the institution
  • Senior management has refused to accept that any planned redundancies fall under S.188 which includes an obligation to formally consult with relevant trade unions before carrying out any redundancies
  • Senior management have not supplied any data, minutes, terms of references, and panel membership connected to the recruitment process under COVID.
  • The Covid-19 Joint Consultative Forum (Covid-19 JCF) meetings that began in the context of the Covid-19 crisis, are not officially minuted despite repeated requests from the Trade Unions
  • The recent (18th August) public commitment from the principal to provide equal access to QMUL for an extra 500 students will result in an potential increase in income of over £4.5 million each year for three years in addition to a significant increase in workload to accommodate those students.

The branch therefore:

  • Endorses the collective grievance submitted by QMUCU on 10 August 2020, highlighting the inadequacies and inconsistencies in institutional processes.

The branch also calls for senior management to:

  • Stand by its stated commitment to a recruitment and redundancy process that is ‘transparent, fair and equitable’.
  • Provide access to relevant data, minutes, terms of references, and panel membership connected to the decision process for the non renewal of contracts and claims to permanency  under COVID-19.
  • Renew fixed term contracts set to expire on or before 31st August. 
  • Immediately end the ‘recruitment freeze’ and the planned budget cuts.