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National UCU press release

February 24, 2010

National UCU Strike action suspended at University of Leeds after groundbreaking talks

The University and College Union (UCU) announced today that strike action at the University of Leeds, planned for tomorrow (Thursday), has been suspended. The strike was supposed to be the first day of action in a rolling programme of industrial unrest. However after a series of talks, and confirmation that the immediate threat of compulsory redundancies had been lifted at the faculty of biological sciences (FBS), the union has said all action will be suspended for up to four weeks.

At an emergency general meeting this lunchtime UCU members at Leeds overwhelmingly backed the union’s negotiators’ recommendations that three one-day strikes, which were due to take place over the next eight days, are suspended.  The union has the right to reinstate the action if it feels the talks are not progressing in good faith and the university has agreed that UCU’s mandate for industrial action (that was due to expire on Tuesday 2 March) be extended for another four weeks.

UCU University of Leeds representative, Dr Gavin Reid, said: “We are really pleased with progress made today, and in the past few meetings. The threat of immediate compulsory redundancies has been removed in FBS and both sides will now work to avoid them in future. We have suspended our planned industrial action to allow further talks to take place with the aim of getting a negotiated settlement.”

Both sides agreed a joint statement after today’s meeting, which is below:

Very good progress has been made through the ACAS talks over the course of this week.

The two sides are close to agreement on a new process of organisational change, the main features of which are:

  • a clear role for the Senate in the establishment of a review process for any academic area, and in approving new academic plans before the restructuring of any such area;
  • if a plan requires a reduction in job numbers other than through natural turnover, the reduction will require the approval of the University Council;
  • explicit provision for full consultation with the staff in a department under review;
  • a disciplined framework for meaningful consultation with the trades unions throughout the review and restructuring process;
  • the addition of a post-restructuring review phase, containing various steps aimed at avoiding compulsory redundancies.

The new process – which is subject to negotiation with the other two campus unions – is intended to reinforce collegiality and the engagement of staff in any process of organisational change.   It represents a ground-breaking package enshrining the principles of openness, fairness, transparency and good governance in detailed new policies and procedures to promote job security, avoid redundancy and manage change.   Both sides have agreed that the new process would be subject to review during 2010-11.

Agreement has been reached on a number of proposed changes to corporate governance.   In particular, the University negotiators will be proposing to the Senate and Council that the Code of Practice on Corporate Governance (updated as necessary but not changed substantively) be reaffirmed;  that a clause be added to the Statutes specifying that the Council shall adopt a code of practice to guide the conduct of corporate governance;  and that compliance with the code of practice be brought within the remit of the Audit and Risk Committee (and hence the Council).

The two sides are still discussing the position in the Faculty of Biological Sciences (FBS), but have made good progress towards agreement.   The University has agreed that, in the case of FBS, the post-restructuring review process will be extended to the end of January 2011, and that no compulsory redundancies can be proposed before the end of that process.

The two sides have agreed an intensive series of meetings over the next fortnight.   The agenda for those meetings will include the mapping of reviews already initiated into the new organisational change process, and the position of staff who have already been through the matching process in FBS.

Given the very good progress made to date, and the agreement of both sides to conclude negotiations quickly to an agreed agenda, UCU negotiators are recommending to a general meeting the suspension of the three one-day strikes that were due to take place over the next eight days.   The University has agreed that UCU’s mandate for industrial action (that was due to expire on 2 March) be extended for another four weeks.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 24, 2010 9:00 PM

    Congratulations, guys! Keep up the good work!

  2. Andrew permalink
    February 25, 2010 10:25 PM

    Great work UCU. Let us make sure that whatever the outcome of the talks, management intends to keep to its side of the bargain. It is vitally important that our good faith should not be interpreted as a sign of weakness.
    Academics in all faculties unite!

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