Lord Mandelson asks University of Leeds to put job cuts on hold
The University of Leeds has been asked by the Visitor* of the university (Lord Mandelson in his capacity as Lord President of the Council) to put its cost cutting plans on hold while he investigates a formal challenge that accuses the university of breaking key rules on how it is regulated.
The challenge, in the form of a Petition to the Visitor, from the staff member represented by the University and College Union (UCU) claimed the university bypassed the body responsible for its academic mission, the senate, when it implemented a restructure plan for the Faculty of Biological Sciences (FBS). The Petition called for action related to cost cutting plans in other departments to be put on hold while the Visitor investigated the complaint.
The union argues that the academic mission is the responsibility of the senate and that the university’s council and executive were not empowered, under the university’s rules of governance, to alter it without the proper consideration of the senate which, UCU claims, was not obtained at the proper time, or indeed at all.
The news of Lord Mandelson’s intervention comes just 24 hours after UCU members at the university announced plans for a rolling programme of industrial action, with one-day strikes taking place on Thursday 25 February, Tuesday 2 and Thursday 4 March. However, the union made it clear today (Friday) that strike action was a last resort. UCU said it remained committed to resolving the dispute at the negotiating table and agreeing a structured process to avoid compulsory redundancies.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “We are pleased that the Visitor agrees with us that the current cost cutting plans at Leeds must be put on hold to allow this issue to be properly investigated. Our universities spend millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money and it is right and just that there is proper scrutiny of how they spend that money and why certain decisions around their academic missions are taken. UCU continues to believe a sensible way forward is possible at Leeds and we call on the university to join us in meaningful negotiations to avoid a damaging dispute.”
The Visitor of the university is responsible for ensuring that the institution conducts its affairs in accordance with its Charter and Statutes.
To read this story on the BBC go here