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Issue: July at  25 July 2013

Strike ballot confirmed at University of Liverpool in row over contracts

MEMBERS of the University and College Union (UCU) at the University of Liverpool are being balloted, since  Monday 22  July 2013, for strike action in the 1st ever trade dispute at the university. The news comes as 2,803 staff (over half the workforce) are threatened with having to sign a new contract or face dismissal. The ballot closes at 12 noon, on Friday, 6 September 2013.

The union said members felt they had no choice but to take the unprecedented step following efforts by the university to impose worse terms and conditions on staff. UCU said that it was incredibly disappointed at the university for riding roughshod over procedures specifically thrashed out to deal with contractual changes.

The university wants to impose a new contractual requirement for bank holiday, weekend and evening working for the majority of professional, managerial, specialist and senior administrative (PMSA) staff without adequate compensation.

In response to a question at an all-staff meeting, the vice-chancellor, Sir Howard Newby confirmed that any member of staff who rejects the new contract will be dismissed. UCU said that made a mockery of the university's claim that the dispute is simply over changes to contracts.

There is an agreement in place between the university and the unions that any changes to contracts must be negotiated by both sides. The university has refused to honour its own agreement and has issued a legal notice to the trade unions which means it will merely consult over the changes.

On 7 June 2013, the university announced it would invoke a section 188 notice, which is expressly designed for redundancy or dismissal situations. If the unions don't agree to the university's plans within the consultation period then the university is proposing to issue dismissal notices to 2,803 staff (54% of its workforce) in its efforts to force through the new contracts.

UCU had asked the university to remove this threat so the two sides could sit down in meaningful negotiations and reach a satisfactory agreement, but the university refused. The union is also disappointed that last week the university unilaterally cancelled an internal disputes panel meeting - designed to consider the position of both sides in a dispute and try and find a resolution; at the last minute.

UCU regional official, Martyn Moss, said:- "It is incredibly frustrating that the university is riding roughshod over procedures we have agreed with them and is threatening staff with dismissal. Staff will simply not sit back and be treated in this way and that is why they have asked their union to ballot them for strike action for the very 1st time in a dispute with the University of Liverpool.  Nobody ever wants to take strike action and the dedicated staff at the University of Liverpool are no different. If the vice-chancellor wants to avoid disruption he needs to look again at this heavy-handed approach to negotiations and understand that other institutions do not treat their staff in this way."

Heatwave 'good for oral health'

THE current heatwave may be beneficial for oral health, according to a leading charity.  That's because Vitamin D, naturally produced by your body when exposed to sunlight, may help prevent tooth decay, tooth loss and gum disease.

Previous research has suggested the 'sunshine vitamin' could improve gum health, and a review of 24 studies spanning 60 years revealed vitamin D could reduce the incidence of tooth decay.  Vitamin D is essential for bone development. Although it can also be found in fish, eggs fortified cereals, dairy products and soy products, it is naturally made by your body when exposed to sunlight hence why it is sometimes called the sunshine vitamin.

It's the first time since 2006 the UK has had 6 consecutive days of temperatures above 30 degrees and Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, thinks the weather could be a catalyst for oral health improvements.  He said:- "We have just been through a long, cold winter, which could mean many people are suffering from a vitamin D deficiency. Add to this the increasing number of children with tooth decay, and it suddenly it doesn't seem as frivolous.   Teeth aren't exactly bones, but they have the same problems if they're not strong enough. If your jawbone isn't strong enough to support your teeth, or if the tooth itself is weak and brittle, there's a chance you'll develop problems. The same applies to your gums. If they are inflamed or swollen, you're more likely to suffer from severe gum disease, the largest cause of tooth loss.  There is a very simple way to prevent and treat gum disease, therefore lowering the risk of these general health problems developing. You need to make sure you remove all the plaque from your teeth every day. This is done by brushing for 2 minutes twice a day, morning and night with fluoride toothpaste, as well as using interdental brushes or floss to clean in between teeth where both gum disease and dental decay start.  Particularly during the summer we are more likely to have foods and drinks that, if you have them too often, can cause long term problems. Fruit juices, fizzy and alcoholic drinks, ice-cream and lollies iced-coffees and berries are among some of the worse foods and drinks for your teeth. If you're going to have these, it's best not to snack on them throughout the day. Keeping them to mealtimes is better than exposing your teeth to a constant acid attack."

The dangers of being out in the sun for too long have been well documented, particularly in this heatwave. Dr Carter added:- "If you are out in the sun, take care to cover up or protect your skin with sunscreen before you turn red or get burnt. Drink plenty of water too, as it will keep you hydrated and be good for your teeth."


MERSEYSIDE Police have confirmed that a number of warrants were executed on Monday, 22 July 2013, as part of the ongoing investigation into the murder of 31 year old Jason Osu. Mr Osu was shot as he was parking his car in his driveway on Beauclair Drive in Wavertree on Monday, 19 November 2012. He died in hospital on Monday, 26 November 2012, as a result of his injuries. A 45 year old man has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder. 5 other people, 3 men and 2 women, have been arrested for other matters including fraud, possession of controlled drugs and cultivation of cannabis. All 6 people have been spoken to and have subsequently been bailed pending further enquiries.

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