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University posts misleading news item

January 6, 2010

As if willfully to demonstrate that it does not take care to listen to what its employees’ representatives are telling it, the University posted a news item on Monday 4 January that indicates it believes the UCU are balloting for strike action as a means of protesting the government cuts to HE funding.  Readers of this blog, and people across campus know this is simply not true (though we do of course oppose the HE cuts, these are simply not the reason for our ballot). We would ask the University to withdraw or redact this news item, as it seems to be constructed deliberately to mislead the public about the nature of the UCU’s grievance with the University.

In addition, this news item claims that the University management “are committed to working with the unions to avoid compulsory redundancies if we can, and we will be doing everything possible to protect the quality of our academic work.” UCU believe that this is not true – the management have not done everything possible to protect the quality of academic work under stress as a result of the economies exercise, as many avenues remain unexplored or ignored. Indeed, we argue that academic freedom is under direct attack. It is certainly not true to date that the University has shown anything like a commitment to work with the unions to avoid compulsory redundancies. Such a commitment, for example, might include providing appropriate consultation time over important documentation instead of unreasonable time constraints and, as happened before Christmas, the release of documents without dialogue with the union before the end of a formal consultation period.

In case any member of the University management is reading, we’d like to point out once again that the reasons we are preparing to ballot for strike action include:

  • UCU believes that the University is in clear breach of section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act in failing to engage in a meaningful way to avert and mitigate against job losses.
  • UCU believes that the University is in clear breach of the Employment Rights Act and also its internal Charter and Statutes, which require that fair and transparent processes are adopted when it comes to selecting people for redundancy.
  • UCU believes that the University’s systems of Governance are being ignored in the ‘change management’ race before any serious negotiations might disrupt or delay their plans. (Members will remember that they announced job matching in FBS just hours after the first talks with ACAS).
  • UCU believes that the University is imposing narrow and rigid job descriptions on all FBS academic staff that UCU challenges as illegal and considers an affront to academic freedom. Academic related and other jobs are also under significant and immediate threat and UCU is doing everything within its power to defend and protect all members.

More blog postings on the forthcoming ballot will appear in coming days.

Update 8 January: The University’s news item has its title changed to ‘ACAS talks’, which makes no difference to the nature of the misleading information it contains. A paragraph on these talks has been added. The change from the original title ‘Government Cuts to HE Funding’ demonstrates an attempt to make the comment on external factors become a comment to internal issues, but the representation of the purpose of the ballot has not changed, despite the University now having been made aware that we consider it a false representation.

Original posting, 4 January:

strike misinformation postingAdjusted posting, 7 January:

strike misinformation 2

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