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Will industrial action make the problem go away?

February 4, 2010

The University issued a statement yesterday on the UCU’s ballot for industrial action, which has resulted in an unprecedented turnout and an overwhelming support for strike action and action short of a strike.

In the statement, the University says “Industrial action, unfortunately, is not going to make the problem go away”. Nowhere in the statement do they make clear what they think the problem actually is. This leaves us with the question – is this statement purely propaganda?

The reasons for the ballot were clear:

  • The University continues to threaten its valued staff with compulsory redundancies. Members have demonstrated that they believe that industrial action could make this problem go away.
  • The University has imposed a disastrous process on the Faculty of Biological Sciences, one which we believe is non-transparent, non-consultative and – in seemingly pre-selecting people for redundancies – in a manner in which could potentially be unlawful. Members have demonstrated that they believe that industrial action could make this problem go away.
  • The University has bypassed Senate, UCU argues, and ignored a number of its own rules. Members have demonstrated that they believe that industrial action could make this problem go away.
  • The University has ignored its agreements with UCU and has, in our opinion, failed in both its statutory obligation to consult with staff representatives and its own protocols as regards consultation. Members have demonstrated that they believe that industrial action could make this problem go away.
  • The reasons for the ballot and for staff disaffection are clear. The problems this University faces are deep-rooted, and recognised by staff of all categories across campus. Removing the above named problems is entirely within the university’s gift. If the University is prepared to address these issues in a meaningful way through negotiation, then it could indeed make industrial action go away.
2 Comments leave one →
  1. IvotedYes permalink
    February 4, 2010 11:48 AM

    touché!

  2. Ann Blair permalink
    February 6, 2010 11:10 AM

    Despite months in talks, mostly in the case of FBS talks about the wrong things, and despite a statutory framework that requires the employer to talk to us about reducing the number of post to be lost, it has seemed to me that there is absolutely no interest on the management side in saving a single academic job that is targeted to go in that faculty. The overall numbers destined for the chop, as academic related and support staff have taken a disproportionate number of the voluntary severance packages agreed so far, has gone up not down.
    I have been unable to conclude anything other than that there is a group of academic staff they are determined to force out come hell or high water. It remains to be seen whether the limited progress on this made through the ACAS talks will signal any change on this – by their acts shall you know them.
    However I would find all of their hand wringing much more convincing if I had heard more than one solitary comment from the management side in the whole of this process regretting that loyal members of university staff will lose their jobs and have their careers blighted.
    There has been an almost total lack of humanity in this process as they weigh in and happily see academic careers laid waste.
    That is not to diminish the damage done to the lives and careers of other staff, but we know that so far the university has proved itself pretty well incapable of redeploying academic staff – be they lecturing staff or research staff – into careers that use their hard earned academic skills and knowledge.
    Our dispute needs to bring home to management that we are the university and if they won’t listen willingly then they will be forced to listen. The resounding message from the ballot is a good first step – but we still have a long way to go to get the change of heart that is needed.

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