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President’s blog – the forthcoming ballot and ACAS

December 18, 2009

Notice of Intention to Ballot

Following decisions made by very well attended Emergency UCU meetings this term, The University confirmed with the UCU Regional Organiser Mark Oley yesterday (Thursday 17th December) that they had received our notice of intention to ballot for industrial action. The ballot will run from the beginning of next term, Monday January 11th 2010 and will close on Wednesday February 3rd 2010.

Our ballot campaign will kick off with our first General Meeting of next term on Wednesday 13th January in the Worsley Medical Lecture Theatre, which will be addressed by the General Secretary of the UCU, Sally Hunt. Please reserve this date in your diaries.

We need a strong turnout in the ballot to strengthen our negotiating position. Please VOTE YES for strike action and YES for action short of a strike.

Job Descriptions

Some of you will be aware that the University has issued for consultation with the unions narrowly defined job descriptions for most Professors and Readers in Biological Sciences. The timeline for the restructuring process means that the job matching process of Professors would begin on January 4th and selection on January 11th. In the UCU view, this is a very serious challenge to academic freedom and is in breach of university ordinances and statutes. One reason for our dispute with the University is the way in which the university have conducted the review and restructuring of Biological Sciences, putting our members in that Faculty in a totally invidious position, just before the Christmas Holidays. The University have refused to withdraw the threat of compulsory redundancies and appear to be engaging in the constructive dismissal of members of the university.

ACAS

In the Extra Joint Committee of the University and the UCU (JCUU) this term, The University and the UCU jointly agreed to a reference to Acas. The first meeting will take place on January 5th, followed by a further meeting on January 11th. Two further meetings have been scheduled for the 19th and 25th January. Clearly the timetable of meetings is undermined by the pace of the job matching and selection process in Biological Sciences, which we would hope the university would draw back from.

What ‘dispute’ means for you

All negotiation of the terms and conditions of service of staff in Grades 6 and above are conducted by the UCU and the University through the JCUU. Normally, these negotiations and their associated consultations are conducted in groups set up by JCUU. During the course of the dispute however, all negotiation and consultation is drawn back into the JCUU itself. This does not mean that the UCU stops representing our members, far from it. A number of meetings take place between the unions and the university outside of JCUU, a good example is Health and Safety whose framework is separately and legally defined. Meetings of this sort will continue as normal. In addition, the university continues to ‘consult’ with members regarding issues affecting terms and conditions (although not formally with the UCU) through staff meetings and in addition, members are sometimes confronted with issues regarding terms and conditions with individual managers. Where this happens, UCU members concerned are entitled to have a UCU official or another friend present and we strongly recommend that members do this, particularly where Schools are under review and hence jobs under threat.

Finally

Season’s Greetings to you from Leeds UCU. We anticipate that the New Year will be a challenge, however, we wish you Very Happy Holidays.

Best wishes,

Malcolm

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