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Leeds UCU declares dispute and votes overwhelmingly on industrial action

November 10, 2009

(For Yorkshire Post story, click here. For Times Higher Ed story, click here) Yesterday, the UCU formally entered into dispute with the University of Leeds for failure to follow their own procedures in numerous cases with regard to the ‘Communication and Consultation during Organisational Change’ policy, failure to consult Senate as required by Ordinance II of the University’s charter, wilful and deliberate ignoring of the recognition agreement between University and Union, and failure to follow their legal obligations under Section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (consolidation) Act and existing case law precedent. Those who lead this University know the details of ordinances, policy, procedure, the recognition agreement and, it is reasonable to assume, the law, and failure to abide by the provisions of these on the part of the University, together with the express refusal of the VC to withdraw the threat of compulsory redundancies, form the very reasonable grounds for this dispute.

EGM, 9 NovemberAt an unprecedentedly packed meeting of over 200 members yesterday, with people standing down the steps and in large groups crowded behind the benches, the local UCU membership spoke and asked questions in an exemplary incidence of democracy at the University of Leeds. Members came from all across campus, and from all levels of the University, from part time members to those with senior responsibilities. Numerous people who do not ordinarily address UCU meetings spoke with calm reason and restrained anger at the economies exercise that was imposed upon them, outside of the appropriate statutory structures the university is supposed to follow. The perspective upon the economic situation that the University is seeking to seed across campus as the orthodox perspective was recognised widely as manufactured and suspect.

Three motions were discussed, with speeches offered for and against each, before they were voted upon:

Motion 1

This LA proposes to ballot members immediately for industrial action to defend jobs and oppose compulsory redundancies, in the light of our experience of the Faculty of Biological Sciences consultancy.

Carried overwhelmingly with over 200 voting for, 5 against and 6 abstentions.

Motion 2

This LA has no confidence in the Vice Chancellor and the senior management of The University of Leeds.

Carried by a large majority.

Motion 3

Motion for submission to the HEC & NEC

University of Leeds LA:

·        Declares its full support for the joint union campaign to defend Higher Education;
·        Condemns redundancies, cuts in HE provision and denial of educational opportunities to students;
·        Resolves to support all UCU branches resisting redundancies;
·        Resolves to engage in or support local negotiations to improve institutional agreements on job security, redundancy consultation and redeployment, and appropriate workload models to ensure that the burden of any job losses do not add pressure to remaining staff;
·        Resolves to ballot for local industrial action, and urges branches to so ballot, in response to any threat of compulsory redundancies;
·        Calls upon HEC to wage a vigorous and resolute struggle to defend Higher Education, jobs, conditions of service and pay levels;
·        Urges the NEC to support all joint union, and/or cross-sectoral initiatives to protest at cuts and redundancies, including a national demonstration in the autumn, and a lobby of Parliament to celebrate post-16 education, and to urge proper funding for Universities and Colleges in the spring.
·        The LA, noting the wave of cuts and redundancies being announced at local level, and the growing number of branches balloting for local industrial action in response, believes that a national strategy is needed to unite these local struggles, and to prevent them from being isolated, or weakened by local factors
·        In order to determine an appropriate national strategy, this branch believes that a Special HE Sector Conference should meet this term, after branches have considered the situation confronting the sector.

Carried nem con with 4 abstentions.

The National UCU are carrying the story on their website at UCU national web link

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