Newsletter December -21
Christmas is coming and a much-needed holiday for you Saco-members. The autumn has been intense for all of us in many ways.
Published: Wednesday 22 Dec 2021
Last updated: Wednesday 22 Dec 2021
The annual meeting of the Saco-S Association was held in early October. Our contact ombudsman Michael Svedemar from SULF centrally, participated in the meeting and held a discussion on such as working hours and workload, the issue of copyright and the teacher exemption, and the possibility of partial pension. You can access the minutes from the annual meeting via the link below (in Swedish only)
At the first meetings with the new board of the Saco-S association at Linnaeus University in October, a division of responsibilities was made between the board members and representatives of various bodies within the university were appointed. Via the link below, you can access contact information and division of responsibilities within the board. You are always welcome to contact us when you have questions or concerns.
Even during the autumn, work and life in general have been affected by the pandemic. Many members testify to the continued very high workload. In a recently published national survey by SULF " Now that's enough – On the limitless unpaid work in the academy" it appears that three out of four teachers (senior lecturers and assistant professors) work overtime and three out of four receive no compensation for that work - see link below (in Swedish only). We have no indications that this result would differ significantly at our university.
Already last year, Saco-S and other unions stated, "that the current pandemic is not primarily a financial effort of the university - but rather challenge of the employees". Also in the year 2021, there seems to be a significant financial surplus at the university. The business plan for Linnaeus University for the year 2022 raises the issue of workload, which we cannot see is met in the budget for future years. Our members also seem to have to pay for the pandemic this year with deteriorating working conditions. During the year, work began at the university to develop guidelines for teleworking. We interpret this as meaning that these guidelines are intended for technical / administrative staff - because the current working time agreements for teachers contain formulations about attendance at the workplace. At some other universities, there are now guidelines for teleworking, which are negotiated with the relevant trade unions - but at our university, as we have interpreted the employer, it has been thought that these guidelines will be adopted in the spring.
For the fifth year, the Saco-S association has carried out an evaluation of the wage setting process among the members, and there we see that the wage setting process for the year 2021 in some respects still does not work satisfactorily. The survey was conducted at the end of September / beginning of October and at first analysis, we can see that several results regarding the process are better than last year. However, one respondent out of eight states that he or she has not had a wage-setting conversation. However, there are differences between teaching and research staff vis-à-vis technical and administrative staff. Of the former category, one in six has not had a wage-setting conversation and of the latter category one in twenty-five. In terms of shares, wage-setting conversation, conducted in the manner prescribed in the agreement between the parties, have occured for three out of ten teachers / researchers and for six out of ten administrators / technicians. A narrow majority of the respondents distance themselves, rather than agree with the statement that "the new salary stimulates and motivates me to good performance". When asked if their "wage setting has proceeded to collective bargaining", just over two out of ten answered that they did not consider it meaningful. After the turn of the year, we will return with a summary of the results - where we also make comparisons with previous years' results.
We have discussed salaries and the salary process individually with the deans of each faculty. Among other aspects we have reported the results from our evaluation in the autumn of 2021. We also showed a salary comparison with other higher education institutions after our latest salary revision, where we note that Linnaeus University still has lower salaries mainly among senior lecturers and assistant professors, but also for certain TA staff. We have also pointed out that it is of the utmost importance that the higher education institution acts for improved working conditions (including reduced workload) and competitive salaries with a view to being able to ensure a good supply of skills.
The Saco-S Board's work with wage setting and the wage setting process at Lnu continues. At the time of writing, unfortunately, the wage setting process for 2021 is not ready for the twenty or so members who disagreed with the employer about the proposal for a new salary. According to the agreement that exists with the employer, a salary review will be started shortly, which will give a new salary from 22-04-01 and it will be based on performance and responsibility in the period 2021-04-01 to 22-03-31.
Like other higher education institutions, we have over the years seen a problem in that the wage setting process does not work satisfactorily in the various stages and SULF has centrally evaluated this. Read the report "Salary-setting conversations as a wage formation model in the higher education sector - evaluation" below (in Swedish only). Based on this, SULF and other central parties will in future discuss and hopefully continue to work on developing an appropriate salary model within universities and colleges.
During the autumn, the so-called doctoral ladder has been negotiated - which resulted in new salaries from 1 January 2021, 2022 and 2023, respectively. The mentioned agreement also includes salaries for assistants. See attached document (in Swedish only).
During the autumn of 2021, a local agreement on inconvenient working hours for teachers has been re-negotiated, as well as a local agreement regarding hourly wages for certain TA staff. You reach these agreements via the links below (in Swedish only).
The service planning of teachers working hours, are discussed in the Final Report from the focus group for teachers' working hours 2021 (see link below - in Swedish only) and have also attracted the attention of the Saco-S association at Lnu, which has begun working on this. The Saco-S association sees i.a. a. problems in the implementation of Retendo in that it is now difficult to see what was the original service plan for the year in relation to changes made in the planning. In addition, we get the impression that, for example, a specific assignment in a course generates fewer and fewer hours, which enables more and more assignments to be added to the services. Further more, we also see sometimes unreasonably large imbalances in duty planning. It can sometimes be the case that even though it looks quite reasonable in Retendo, employees are assigned more new courses and assignments than what is acceptable from a work environment perspective. The content of that teaching and how it agrees with the individual's competencies is not something that Retendo can provide answers to. Thus, we risk relying on a system instead of making reasonable trade-offs of the scope and content of members' services.
The Saco-S association has for a long time in various discussions with the employer raised the issue of co-worker accounting, where the hope is that the employer will work in a more systematic way with issues concerning employees' working conditions and work situation. Through co-worker accounting, a more coherent picture can be achieved of age and salary structure, skills and staffing, promotion of systematic work environment work, sick leave, health issues, etc. We see this as a step in the university being able to work towards a sustainable working life. During the autumn, a group was appointed to work with this, which in addition to representatives of the employer, also representatives of the protection organization and of the trade unions are included.
During the autumn, the issue of conditions for teachers' program and course responsibilities was also raised by the trade unions, where we believe that the conditions for this are often not sufficient - which may affect the quality of education. If we have interpreted it correctly, the issue will be raised in the Council for Education and Learning (RUL).
In connection with the inauguration of the University Quay in Kalmar, the then minister of higher education, Matilda Ernkrans visited the university. During a small part of this visit, the chairs of the Saco-S Association and of ST had the opportunity to meet the minister to give our views of the university. We highlighted the high workload and pointed out that the number of students in 2020 was 15% more than the year before - while the staff had only become 1-2% more. In addition, we pointed out that salaries are low at the university compared to other universities and the surrounding society - which also reasonably affects the university's ability to provide a good supply of skills. We pointed out that there is a high proportion of fixed-term employees in the sector and that changes in the Aliens Act risk that doctoral students and researchers from other countries will be expelled after completing their education or work.
In 2021, work has been going on in a joint working group, consisting of representatives of employers and trade unions. This working group has worked with issues of co-influence at the university and during the year, the group has partly gained new members. A shorter report was made at MBL, in the spring of '21, and the group was commissioned to continue its work of proposing more concrete measures for increased participation and for increased influence. A document has been prepared regarding some points to make the union co-influence at the faculty level work better, and in a more similar way between faculties.
During the autumn, a work environment survey was conducted again - where questions about the distance between organization / management and employees as well as workload on a general level show that there is still a significant potential for improvement. We note that the workload, especially in many institutions and some departments / units, is very high, while managers and administration do not express the same high workload.
During the autumn, the employer has produced a proposal for a policy for copy right materials produced at the university. The issue was raised at MBL and the unions adjourned the hearing with the intention of returning with written comments. Before the case returned, however, we realized that the employer changed its practice in handling materials and we assess there is a risk that the teacher exemption (ie teachers and researchers rights to their copy right material) will be weakened, so we called for a central negotiation, which is recently conducted. We will return with further information on this issue after the holidays.
We gratefully receive suggestions and views on what Saco-S can / should continue to work on.
We wish all members - we know you have done your very best – a joyful and relaxing holiday. It is needed after a well-conducted job
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
The board of the Saco-S association at Linnaeus University
Jan Andersson and Gunilla Gunnarsson (chairman and vice-chairman, respectively)