The Referendum

The Referendum (November) 2021

YOU MUST LOG-IN TO THE RUSU WEBSITE (USING YOUR UNIVERSITY LOGIN DETAILS) TO ACCESS THE REFERENDUM VOTING PAGE.

Q1. Should RUSU support UCU strike action over the pension dispute?

QUESTION 1 asks for your opinion on whether RUSU should support STRIKE ACTION relating to the pension dispute.

You should respond ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to the question depending on whether you are in support of the strike action or not. You can choose to abstain if you wish to refrain from casting your vote. The outcome to this referendum will determine RUSU’s position in relation to the UCU strike action relating to the pensions dispute.

Q2. Should RUSU support UCU action short of a strike over the pension dispute?

QUESTION 2 asks for your opinion on whether RUSU should support action short of a strike relating to the pensions dispute.

You should respond ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to the question depending on whether you are in support of the action short of a strike or not.  You can choose to abstain if you wish to refrain from casting your vote.  The outcome to this referendum will determine RUSU’s position in relation to the UCU action short of a strike relating to the pensions dispute.

The University & College Union has notified the University of their intention to encourage members to take part in industrial action in relation to their ongoing pension dispute.

UCU are meeting on the 12th November 2021 to determine when they plan to undertake industrial action. We understand that they must give at least 2 week’s notice prior to taking industrial action, therefore, we anticipate that UCU will advise and give formal notice of industrial action at some point from the 12th November. We will provide student members with more information on this as soon as we have it.

Reading University Students’ Union (RUSU) Student Voice members have now called a referendum in accordance with the RUSU Constitution and associated Referenda Bye-law. A referendum is a ballot in which all student members of RUSU are entitled to cast a vote to provide their opinion on an issue. This is done in the form of a question (or questions) and the electorate are asked to respond either ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘abstain’, to the question(s).

VOTING FOR THIS REFERENDUM OPENS 10:00, 22nd NOVEMBER AND ENDS 17:00, 30th NOVEMBER 2021

In this referendum, RUSU invites student members, the students of Reading University, to cast their vote and determine whether RUSU should support the upcoming University and College Union (UCU) strike action and/or action short of strike.

Strike action is industrial action whereby UCU members take the decision not to work on a strike day. If they choose, UCU members can choose not to work on all of the strike days.

Action Short of a Strike (ASOS) may include, but is not limited to, industrial action taken by UCU members in the form of a protest, an expression of dissatisfaction, slowdown, refusal to work overtime or working to rule.

This official industrial action relates an ongoing dispute over Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pensions.

The referendum questions are;

  • Should RUSU support UCU strike action over the pension dispute?
  • Should RUSU support UCU action short of a strike over the pension dispute?

Students will be able to respond ‘Yes’, ‘No’ or ‘Abstain’ to both questions. The outcome of the referendum will determine RUSU’s position in relation to the upcoming UCU strike action and UCU action short of a strike.

RUSU is not obliged to act upon a vote that has a turnout of less than 1,000 students eligible to vote. However, the vote may be taken into account when formulating policies.

To help you decide how to vote, we have written a detailed explanation of what voting for each question means and what it will result in.

Voting for this referendum is open from 10:00, 22nd November until 23:59, 30th November 2021.

University and College Union and Universities UK have been engaged in an ongoing dispute over pensions since 2018. RUSU has held two previous referenda on this issue, enabling our members to shape our stance on the ongoing dispute.

Recently, UCU balloted its members on whether to take further strike action and/or action short of a strike. This ballot took place from 18th October and 4th November 2021. On the 5th November, UCU announced that members of The University and College Union (UCU) have voted in favour of undertaking industrial action. UCU have posted the full results of the strike ballot here.

UCU met on the 12th November 2021 to determine when they plan to undertake industrial action. We understand that they must give at least 2 week’s notice prior to taking industrial action, therefore, we anticipated UCU would give formal notice of industrial action at some point from the 12th November. UCU have now scheduled strike action to take place for 3 days from 1st December to 3rd December 2021. In addition to strike action, UCU plan action short of a strike to commence from the 1st December 2021. This will include strictly working to contract and refusing any additional duties. This is set to go on indefinitely for the five-month period staff have a mandate to take industrial action form.

As a student led organisation, it is important that our stance on the ongoing dispute is shaped by our student members. RUSU Student Voice met on the 9th November 2021 and a subsequent vote of RUSU Student Voice Members decided in favour of RUSU calling a referendum to ask our membership “Should RUSU support UCU strike action and action short of a strike over the pension dispute”. Therefore, on Friday, 12th November 2021, RUSU Student Voice formally called for a referendum to take place to enable our full student membership to decide RUSU stance on this issue.

RUSU Elections Committee gave student members the opportunity to submit amendments to the proposed referendum question. Upon receipt of suggested amendments, RUSU Elections Committee have now finalised the questions to be asked in this referendum. The following questions will be asked in this referendum:

  • Should RUSU support UCU strike action over the pension dispute?
  • Should RUSU support UCU action short of a strike over the pension dispute?

You can find out more information from University and College Union (USU) relating to why they called for strike action relating to USS pensions at UCU Strike for USS. Visit UUK Response for the response from Universities UK (UUK) who represent 136 higher education employers (including University of Reading) in discussions relating to the USS pensions. If you have any concerns around the proposed industrial action, and how it will affect your individual circumstances or your student experience, please share these with RUSU via email to studentvoice@rusu.co.uk.

We are aware that a UCU ballot has called for strike action and action short of a strike as a result of the ongoing pension dispute.

RUSU is a membership organisation and recognises that our members, the students at the University of Reading, may hold differing and potentially conflicting opinions on the UCU strike action and action short of a strike.

On the 9th November 2021, RUSU Student Voice convened to discuss and vote on whether to call for a referendum. It was clear from the discussion that RUSU Student Voice was in support of holding a referendum on this issue as this would enable the wider student membership decide whether RUSU should support the UCU strike action and action short of a strike.

A vote took place and RUSU Student Voice called for a referendum which will enable all student members have the opportunity to cast their vote which will determine the position RUSU will take in relation to the UCU strike action and action short of a strike .

The following activities have already taken place in relation to the Referendum process.

Notice of Referendum

On 12th November 2021, RUSU published a Notice of Referendum with proposed question and timeline.

RUSU welcomes students to apply to become agents for the 'Yes' and 'No' campaigns.

All Student Members can put themselves forward as an ‘Agent’ for the ‘Yes’ vote campaign or the ‘No’ vote campaign.

To do this, log on at the Become an Agent page using your university username and password. Submit your nomination via the online Become an Agent Survey.

Student members who want to apply to become an Agent must do so no later than 23:59, Tuesday, 16th November 2021.

RUSU call for amendments to the proposed question

All Student Members can put forward amendments (alternative proposals) to the original proposed question(s). Please note proposed amendments must be in the spirit of the original question.

To do this, log on at Submit an Amendment page using your university username and password. Click on the Amendments Submission Survey and submit your proposed amendment.

You will be asked to give your name, student number, contact details and details of your amendment.

Student members who want to submit an amendment must do so no later than 23:59, Tuesday, 16th November 2021.

Appointment of agents and amendments to referendum questions

On 17th November, 2021, RUSU Elections Committee, a sub-committee of the RUSU Trustee Board, will meet to appoint Agents and consider amendments to the proposed questions.

Up to 2 Agents can be appointed, one for the “Yes” vote campaign and another for the “No” vote campaign.

If student members do not put themselves forward for either role, the referendum will go ahead uncontested.

Amendments will also be considered and RUSU Elections Committee may take decision to amend the original question.

Student members invited to come to the referendum debate

A debate on this referendum will take place at Student Voice on 22nd November 2021 at 18:00 in 2Sixty, in the Students’ Union building.

All Student Members of RUSU are welcome to attend this debate. Individuals who are not full Student Members of RUSU are unable to attend.

Please bring your student card to gain entry to the debate.

Student members to vote in the referendum

Online voting for this referendum will open at 10:00 on Monday 22nd November and will end at 23:59 on Tuesday 30th November 2021.

All Student Members shall be eligible to vote. You will need to login at this page and click on VOTE button.

A vote will only be passed by Referendum if at least 1,000 student members cast a vote in the Referendum and a simple majority of the votes cast are in favour of the resolution.

Results will be published on Monday, 29th November 2021.

Further information relating to the referendum will be posted online.

We hope that you will be completely satisfied with our referendum process. Should you have a complaint, we want to work with you to resolve the issues as quickly as possible so please get in touch immediately.

All complaints should be addressed to Chief Executive/Deputy Returning Officer. Complaints must be submitted, in person to RUSU Reception, no later than 4pm, Tuesday 30th November 2021.

If you have any questions relating to the referendum, please email elections@rusu.co.uk.

Become an Agent

When an issue being decided by a referendum is contested, two agents will be selected. Each agent will be responsible for running either the “Yes” vote campaign or the “No” vote campaign.

Submit an Amendment

This process allows student members of RUSU to propose changes to the initial referendum proposal. All proposed amendments must be in the spirit of the original question.

The Referendum Debate

The Referendum Debate is a chance for students to hear the arguments from both the “Yes” and “No” campaigns in the referendum before voting opens.

Referendum Timeline

The timeline of upcoming Referendum meetings and events.

How to vote

How to cast your vote in the Referendum.

What Your Vote Means

Explanations of what voting for each question in the Referendum means and what you're voting for.

FAQ

Important and frequently asked questions on the subject of the Referendum.

Agent Resources

Key guidelines, rules and information for all RUSU elections including Referendum Agents.