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Troubles at ACAS and today’s events

March 10, 2010

Contrary to the VC’s statement this afternoon (and we should remind readers that the VC does not speak for the UCU), the union has not reneged upon its commitments to the ACAS process and remains willing to meet the University at any time. In his letter to all staff, Vice Chancellor Michael Arthur has inaccurately suggested that UCU has announced a strike. In fact, this is not the case. UCU has indicated a readiness to take strike action on Thursday 18 March  if insufficient progress occurs during ACAS talks over the next week. It would now seem the VC is not willing to attend ACAS talks next week.

We offer an exclusive insight into a UCU negotiator’s diary here (download powerpoint). The negotiator’s diary shows that the delays in resolving the dispute cannot be laid at UCU’s door. UCU declared its dispute on 9 November 2009. The university took almost a month to meet with UCU to discuss the dispute (3 January 2010). It is clear from the negotiator’s diary that university management bears the responsibility for delaying the process of negotiation. It is also clear from the negotiator’s diary that university management in its current mood will only respond to UCU’s unprecedented mandate for strike action. It is also clear from the negotiator’s diary that UCU was willing to suspend strike action at the last minute if progress in ACAS talks was forthcoming. In the context of the negotiator’s diary, the refusal by university management to negotiate more meaningfully over the next week speaks for itself.

More than 4 months have passed since the dispute was first declared and Reviews are still progressing in areas such as Teaching and Learning Support, Research Innovation Support, English and Colour Science. The necessary requirement of advance consultation with the campus trades union in all of these areas has still not been met by the university management. UCU will protect all of its members (academic and academic related) from these ad hoc, undisciplined and unnecessarily damaging processes.

The Vice Chancellor’s version of events also breaches the confidence of ACAS talks, to UCU’s dismay. UCU local association President Malcolm Povey has issued the following clarification of UCU’s position, so that the university management can be in no doubt as to the UCU’s willingness to negotiate meaningfully whenever the university management wishes to take the opportunity to do so.

Malcolm Povey wrote to the university management:

‘We have not ‘announced’ a strike as Michael Arthur puts it, neither have we withdrawn from the Acas process. Our discussions with members are in private. They are not for discussion by university management with all university staff, in breach of confidence.
 
As always, the UCU remains committed to talking to university management, any time, any place. However, given this afternoon’s developments it now seems inevitable that the UCU will be left with no alternative but to put the necessary actions in place to initiate our industrial action.  We had agreed in good faith to put this aside in the interests of finding a negotiated solution but we have now been left with no alternative.’ (Malcolm Povey, email communication)

Malcolm Povey’s email to the university management makes it clear that UCU will defend its members with unwavering resolution. This afternoon’s motion at an Emergency General Meeting outlines that the basis for UCU’s timeline for possible strike action relates to ‘insufficient progress’ in the ACAS talks.

UCU will not stand by and see its members treated in this manner.
UCU remains committed to a meaningful and negotiated solution to the issue of organizational change.
UCU remains committed to a disciplined framework for organizational change.
UCU remains committed to its right to be meaningfully consulted about the interests of its members when organizational change of any form is proposed.
UCU will take strike action on Thursday 18 March 2010 in order to protect its members, unless further meaningful progress and good faith is demonstrated by the university management.

68 Comments leave one →
  1. March 10, 2010 5:07 PM

    Really sorry to hear that talks have broken down. If you are indeed forced to proceed with your action (and I would hope your management would reconsider its position), we wish you all success.

    Paul Cecil, Branch President, UCU Sussex

  2. puddlepie permalink
    March 10, 2010 5:09 PM

    Can you comment on the claim made by the VC that UCU reduced the number of hours of negotiation?

  3. March 10, 2010 5:49 PM

    Certainly. As you know, the univerity management made a big deal last week of how many hours we had all so far spent on ACAS. All negotiators, on both sides, agreed to a reduction in recognition of the UCU negotiators having day jobs, including teaching commitments. It is disingenuous to now suggest that dedication to our students represents a lack of commitment to ACAS. UCU have at no point walked away from ACAS. Today’s announcement by the VC is the second time he has turned his back on ACAS.

  4. Dave Gibson permalink
    March 10, 2010 5:58 PM

    UCU members at Barnsley College continue to support your fight. Your collective determination to defend members’ interests has been the key factor in getting some movement from your management; if you remain united we are confident that process will continue.

    Dave Gibson (UCU sec Barnsley College)

  5. Sarah permalink
    March 10, 2010 6:27 PM

    It’s not just the staff who have been fed wrong information by university management, us students have too: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/comms/financial/students/emails/email_10mar.htm I suspected all was not as it seems in that e-mail so stopped by here to find out what’s really happening. I stand by the UCU 100%

  6. Mark permalink
    March 10, 2010 6:29 PM

    Can we have a clear statement on the situation with regard to strike action?

    I believed that the vote taken today decided on a strike, but Malcolm’s email and comments in the body of this article seems to suggest that this was not a vote for strike action. I thought these votes were more than simple “readiness” for strike action, but actually a democratic decision to go ahead with a strike.

    Which is it? If it wasn’t a vote for strike action, what is it? Also, if the EGMs don’t take these decisions, who does?

  7. March 10, 2010 6:39 PM

    The decision was an agreement to strike, if necessary. Acas talks tomorrow could rule that out, if the university is willing to have those talks. Malcolm made clear today that the VC’s letter spoke of strike before he had received any official notification of strike action.

  8. March 10, 2010 6:41 PM

    I’m glad that UCU remains committed to a negotiated settlement, but after the ‘false dawn’ of a fortnight ago, we surely need to see significant and genuine concessions by the university management if we are to suspend our action once again.

    We need to send a message to management that they cannot continue to derail industrial action with token gestures.

  9. Mark permalink
    March 10, 2010 6:57 PM

    So, you’re saying it *wasn’t* a democratic vote to strike, but a vote to strike “if necessary”?

    That’s not what I thought I was voting on, and I’m certain I’m not the only one.

    You also seem to have missed the question as to who makes that decision:

    Who decides on strike action? Where does the power lie?

  10. Will permalink
    March 10, 2010 7:00 PM

    I agree completely, the email I believe every UG student received looked like rubbish to me, I hate that the University management see fit to abuse their ability to contact every student and lie to them, when it was obvious from the FMG letter to the School of English that the management were going back on the ACAS agreements. Disgraceful. Best of luck in any action you wish to undertake, I’m behind you all the way.

  11. March 10, 2010 7:11 PM

    Any vote to strike is a vote of willingness, as all strikes can be called off. It was made clear that strikes could still be obviated by negotiations, and that was the context for the vote. The power to make the decision is given to the members who attend the meeting, but the executive then have to notify management. The VC’s letter went out before he had received that notification or any communication, so he could not speak with any authority on the UCU’s position. He therefore misrepresented UCU’s position, and one might assume he deliberately chose to do so.

  12. Mark permalink
    March 10, 2010 7:21 PM

    Are you saying that this is a matter of timing? Are we saying that if he waited for an official email, it would be completely different?

    I’m not sure what we’re proving here other than we want to play games and/or dissemble over an important matter.

    I can only assume we were asked to consider a motion to strike because the committee believes that’s the right move to make. Now that we have voted to strike, I think it’s (at best) sophistry to pretend it was a card we didn’t intend to play. I don’t think this makes them look bad, I think it makes us look weak and petty.

  13. An academic permalink
    March 10, 2010 7:22 PM

    It seems a shame that management can not agree to anything unless a strike is on the cards. This decision was unavoidable when faced with that sort of attitude.

    Perhaps UCU could give management an indication of what immediate steps management could agree to indicate good faith and a genuine willingness to avert disaster. Here’s a start:

    1) Immediate suspension of all reviews. I think there are 15 of them, but who can really say for sure these days
    2) Immediate financial transparency at all levels
    3) Immediate elections so that there is an elected majority on all committees at all levels
    4) Immediate subscription to the basic standards of employment law, especially as regards consultation with unions and as regards the duty to minimize redundancies and as regards the statutory duty to conduct equality impact assessments
    5) Immediate assesments of how any proposed changes will affect students
    6) Immediate compliance with all aspects of accustomed internal policy, including those policies on disputes with UCU and voluntary severance
    7) Meaningful discussion, consultation and universal employee franchise about all aspects of the Economies Exercise
    8) Immediate restoration and bolstering of all checks and balances in corporate governance at all levels
    9) All decision-making to be transparent and accountable and held in open sessions
    10) An apology to all staff and students for mislaying an imaginary 20 million pounds, with those who are ultimately responsible for making this error paying the appropriate price.

    I’m guessing we’ll be striking next week, but remain optimistic . . .

  14. March 10, 2010 7:34 PM

    We see where you’re coming from, Mark, but this is not about game-playing or point-scoring. The VC stated to all staff (not just members) and students that we had announced a strike before we had announced a strike. That is to say, before we had contextualised the reasons for our vote to our own membership. One might argue this was clearly tactical on his part. That’s the game-playing. A strike is a means to further a process the University is backing away from. If the University returns to serious negotiation, the strike is no longer needed.

  15. Mark permalink
    March 10, 2010 7:41 PM

    Fair enough, but I’m still unclear as to who makes the decision.

    If the vote today did not constitute an intention to strike, where does the power to take that decision lie?

    I think this is important, and will be more important if action accelerates. Until this evening, I thought it lay with the membership (as expressed through the EGMs and other meetings), but now I’m not so sure.

    Is this decided by the committee?

  16. puddlepie permalink
    March 10, 2010 8:34 PM

    It does seem though, that the proposed strike on 18th march is the last chance that we have to strike, within the period the ballot is valid, while students are still around – and so is strategically a time to strike effectively. i still don’t understand what went wrong at acas in the last couple of days?

  17. March 10, 2010 8:38 PM

    The membership decided that there was an intention to strike. We think that’s unambiguous. But we object to the VC believing he can speak for the union, and effectively misrepresent us. The University has pushed us to confrontation. The UCU remain willing to talk. The University management want now to avoid further talks, but have declared that it is the UCU who wishes to withdraw from ACAS, which is simply not true.

  18. March 10, 2010 8:41 PM

    More information will be forthcoming.

  19. puddlepie permalink
    March 10, 2010 8:41 PM

    I think the VC is saying that by recommending strike action, UCU are showing bad faith, and are therefore effectively ending ACAS negotiations. I’m worried by the accusation of bad faith – I can see his point of view. The UCU has not effectively explained to me what has changed between 2 weeks ago and today.

  20. March 10, 2010 8:44 PM

    You can see his point of view because the spin is crafty. We’ll post a blog tomorrow on a provocation from the School of English which was clearly designed to test the union’s resolve.

  21. Mark permalink
    March 10, 2010 8:51 PM

    But are we not risking making the VC’s argument for him if we try to spin a vote for a strike as not being a vote for a strike? It sounds disingenuous, and leaves us open to accusations of bad faith.

  22. March 10, 2010 9:02 PM

    We don’t think we’ve spun the vote thus. But it was right to point out that we had not announced a strike at that time. Your union had to complain about the VC’s misleading letter. We’re happy to continue to discuss our tactics, and value your input. Certainly, we recognise some will wish to or seek to paint the UCU’s responses in the way you suggest. But, just as this exchange is in public, we are hiding nothing and believe we’re playing straight.

  23. Mark permalink
    March 10, 2010 9:08 PM

    Absolutely – and that’s the right way to play it, but… (and there’s always a “but”)

    Not everyone will see this public exchange, so it’s important that the more public messages are equally clear.

    It’s not sufficient to be right – one must be *seen* to be right.

  24. March 10, 2010 9:17 PM

    You’re spot on there. Our blog has played an important role there. And there will be more all-member messages, and more posts and comments here. We all have day jobs too, so we manage in amongst all that. Today came thick and fast. More to come.

  25. Bob permalink
    March 11, 2010 8:52 AM

    Re. Mark’s comments: how indeed are decisions made here? Perhaps we should petition the Visitor on the point?

  26. March 11, 2010 8:58 AM

    There is no ambiguity. Members voted and made the decision as per the wording of the motion, which was to instruct the executive to begin a process. The executive have begin to act on that instruction from members. If any decision has been taken and you are unsure how it came about, do ask.

  27. puddlepie permalink
    March 11, 2010 10:23 AM

    I think the answer to Mark’s question about who makes the final decision re striking is the scheduled EGM for next Tuesday, as announced in Malcolm’s email.
    That email is very helpful and clear. I can see that the VCs pre-empting of the UCU communication has succeeded in causing confusion & doubt about what UCU are doing – which is what was intended no doubt. I feel much reassured by the latest communication from UCU.

  28. March 11, 2010 10:30 AM

    Thanks for that. It is clear that the VC sought to cause confusion, and it is perfectly understandable that the University management should try to make UCU look weak and sow doubt. That is perfectly consistent with the misrepresentations of the strike and the cause of the dispurte we have seen on their news pages and in letters to students. We should expect propaganda. We need to ask ourselves – why would the VC construct and send a letter to all staff BEFORE any decision had been made at the EGM yesterday? Is that not in itself articulate of his recognition of a position of weakness?

  29. Mark permalink
    March 11, 2010 12:30 PM

    We must be careful here – the date may not be the smoking gun we are suggesting; too many computers carry the wrong date let alone time, so timestamps can be very misleading… We can be accused of jumping to conclusions too!

  30. H H Chau permalink
    March 11, 2010 5:50 PM

    Dear Mark

    I had received the VC’s email on 14:34 yesterday. He was in the Council Chamfer on 14:00 sharp. One can draw his/her own conclusion based facts. Be assured that my waist watch and all my computing equipment keep reasonably accurate time.

  31. Lawrence permalink
    March 11, 2010 9:57 PM

    Yesterday was a disappointing day. The extensive exchanges in this comment section between leedsucu and Mark was very revealing and did not paint our actions in a good light.

    Openness is important. For this reason please can you tell us why you have decided to move the bulk of these exchanges to a different ‘Older comments’ page, losing 9 of the comments, including some of those most damaging to UCU, in the process.

  32. March 12, 2010 12:09 AM

    The blog software automatically generates the ‘older comments’ page when discussions are of a certain length. Would you like us to see if we can over-ride that? Can you explain why the open, honest discussion paints us in a poor light, in your view?

  33. H H Chau permalink
    March 12, 2010 2:40 AM

    I, for one, didn’t see Mark’s and others early comments. For that reason, my last comment could well be pre-matured. I’m yet to discover how to access “older comments”. Can a permanent link be posted here?

    OTOH, two big fat crosses – one for the uni and one for the union – for failing to agree on what are the disagreements and factual matters. Last strike threat was like that, unfotunately this time round too. A joint statement would be nice even when talk breaks down. I wonder if that’s possible at all. Confusions would make it harder for members, staff and the public to make their own judgement on the matter. I believe a comon goal or a baseline is for the betterment of the uni (i.e. staff and students). Dialogue is better that confrontation if that’s at all possible.

  34. March 12, 2010 7:26 AM

    To see ‘older comments’ click on the link to ‘older comments’ below.

    We agree that dialogue is better than confrontation, and would prefer discussion to rhetoric. A joint statement would be desirable, but we are now in a place where the University (we would argue) is constructing a false narrative of why things have broken down. We can only disagree with that. This puts us up against each other in public and generates confusion and ill-will (to both University management and union). Of course, we’d rather avoid that. The University has a group of full-time professional news, media and PR people. We have our day-jobs and do all our work around the edges. When things break down, as they have done, the focus shifts to getting the correct narrative out to members.

    We do have a common goal, it would seem, but there are important issues of governance that have yet to be resolved, not to mention trying to agree an appropriate methodology for consultation during organisational change. The University so far hasn’t even stuck to the policies already in place for consultation, and the fact that this happened again last week in the School of English in the midst of ACAS talks seems to indicate to even the most generous of us that the University has no desire to change. A union, in that context, has work to do.

  35. Lawrence permalink
    March 12, 2010 7:47 AM

    Yes I’ll be happy to explain but first will you reinstate the missing comments or explain why they have been removed?

    (As shown at the top of the item this comment thread, newer and older comments combined, should contain 34 responses while only 25 are showing).

    Thanks

  36. March 12, 2010 8:03 AM

    No comments have been removed Lawrence. They’re all still there. The wordpress software automatically generates ‘older comments’ pages in long discussions. As with any other blog on the web, you go to those comments by clicking on the link below ‘older comments’. If this automatic setting, which we did not select, offends you, do say so and we’ll try to adjust it.

  37. puddlepie permalink
    March 12, 2010 8:05 AM

    when you count the number of comments it does come out lower – which is odd (even if you count the older ones too). but i’ve been following this discussion very closely and haven’t seen any comments disappear. a bug in wordpress??

  38. Mark permalink
    March 12, 2010 8:06 AM

    Dear Hau Hing,

    Whilst I appreciate your comment, I am somewhat surprised to hear that he was in the Council Chamber at 14.00 sharp (unless he subsequently left) as I (literally) bumped into him just after that as he entered the Parkinson Building after the UCU meeting. While talking with some other UCU members, I accidentally walked into him as he rounded the corner at the bottom of the steps at the south of Parkinson Court. He was looking somewhat unhappy, and had Vanessa Bridges and Roger Gair with him and heading upstairs.

    I am certain this was after 2pm.

  39. March 12, 2010 8:19 AM

    Odd. But we certainly haven’t deleted anything. We won’t post anything that insults individuals, or which has intemperate language, but the rest we put up and leave. As the University does not offer this discussion facility, we attract all people who want to comment on the situation, which we welcome.

  40. Lawrence permalink
    March 12, 2010 10:41 AM

    The automatic setting does not offend me but the missing comments are disappointing and possibly worrying.

    To jog your memory over the missing comments – Mark suggested that by relying on the fact that the VC had announced UCU’s intention to strike, or readiness to strike in advance of official notification that UCU could be accused of sophistry and dissemblance. I cannot remember the exact details because the comments are now missing. The point is that to this or one of Mark’s other missing comments leedsucu replied “I can see where you’re coming from Mark” so it’s either that leedsucu has a very short memory or something worse.

    The way that UCU is going to retain the highest support of its members is by not giving away the moral high ground. I can believe that you have somehow missed the fact that comments are missing but there is no escaping the fact that this could be seen as convenient as well as odd.

    This blog is a wonderful source of information and place for discussion, let’s keep it that way by making sure that all comments, positive or negative, remain for all to see.

  41. March 12, 2010 10:49 AM

    No comments have been removed. Guaranteed. We’ll conduct a full audit. Alternatively, you’re welcome to come to our office today Lawrence, and look at the history of this page and its comments in our blog dashboard. That’s about as transparent as we can be. None have been removed.

  42. H H Chau permalink
    March 12, 2010 11:29 AM

    It should have read “14:05” sharp. I apologise. I still can’t quite get used to start this – at “five past” and finish at “five to” – thingies. 😎

  43. H H Chau permalink
    March 12, 2010 11:33 AM

    Thanks for the detailed explaination and it very much makes sense.

  44. H H Chau permalink
    March 12, 2010 11:46 AM

    I do not believe any comments had been disappearing. My personal technical difficulty was that when I used a mobile device, I can’t see that “Older comments” and “Newer comments” links. Now using a proper web browser, it’s all okay. OTOH, I should think the Leeds UCU should divert any resource to fix (or over-zealously finetuning) software.

  45. H H Chau permalink
    March 12, 2010 11:48 AM

    “OTOH, I shouldn’t think” — I should go and have a break. 😉

  46. RMS permalink
    March 12, 2010 11:48 AM

    The VC has now published his version of the timeline:

    http://campus.leeds.ac.uk/newsincludes/newsitem6900.htm

  47. John Porter permalink
    March 12, 2010 11:58 AM

    Is it me, or does this timeline smack of childish desperation? Why does the VC feel he needs to outline his behaviour? Because it was reprehensible? This is someone struggling for some moral high ground.

  48. March 12, 2010 11:59 AM

    Would that we could. All our resources are stretched. The blog software does its automatic stuff – we don’t have time to be tweaking it just yet.

    As for disappearing comments – the only other person who might remove a comment is the person who put it up in the first place.

  49. RMS permalink
    March 12, 2010 11:59 AM

    He surely is watching this blog very closely!

  50. March 12, 2010 12:08 PM

    It’s interesting to see the VC admitting that the official notification of strike was at 18:50, but that he saw fit to announce it over four hours before official notification.

  51. Lawrence permalink
    March 12, 2010 1:21 PM

    Right. If you say something often enough, will people believe it?

    That was and is a good question.

    Comments are missing that were present now two days ago. Guaranteed. You may not have removed them yourself, but they’re gone. How else do you account for the discrepancy between the number of recorded comments and the number displayed?

    You say that the only person who might remove a comment is the person who put it up in the first place. Since leedsucu were responsible for several of the missing comments I’ll take your repeated rebuttal that nothing has gone to indicate that you’ve not done this.

    *Please can you confirm that the none of the users of the leedsucu username have any recollection of exchanges with the respondent Mark in which he highlighted how UCU could be accused of sophistry and dissemblance in their actions following the EGM on Tuesday?

    Perhaps Mark has removed some of his earlier comments taking yours with them. In that case, I would be grateful if Mark would tell us if this is what has happened and if it is not, whether this list of responses here and in the older comments contains all of the comments he ever made to this thread.

    I also note that the number of comments and length of discussion on the newer comments page now far exceeds the first set of comments which were automatically moved to a second page. Perhaps you’ve switched that function off.

    This may all seem petty but for me this has become an question of the integrity of the Leeds UCU blog and its bloggers.

    Please do not respond without clearly answering the simple question marked with an asterisk.

  52. March 12, 2010 1:49 PM

    Dear Lawrence. I can confirm that none of the users of the leedsucu username have any recollection of exchanges with the respondent Mark in which he highlighted how UCU could be accused of sophistry and dissemblance in their actions following the EGM on Tuesday. At least not in the way you describe it. We still have not had time to do an audit of all comments, but if any crop up that have been deleted by the original poster, taking any replies with them, we’ll let you know. We respond to messages as they arrive. We don’t delete any. You can be assured of our integrity, and we’ve already invited you to come and check the blog from the inside. There is no conspiracy – we’re too busy for that. We would not allow a message only then to delete it.

  53. March 12, 2010 1:56 PM

    OK. We’ve conducted an audit, and this seems to be the comment that you are concerned has disappeared:

    “Are you saying that this is a matter of timing? Are we saying that if he waited for an official email, it would be completely different? I’m not sure what we’re proving here other than we want to play games and/or dissemble over an important matter. I can only assume we were asked to consider a motion to strike because the committee believes that’s the right move to make. Now that we have voted to strike, I think it’s (at best) sophistry to pretend it was a card we didn’t intend to play. I don’t think this makes them look bad, I think it makes us look weak and petty.”

    to which we responded

    “We see where you’re coming from, Mark, but this is not about game-playing or point-scoring. The VC stated to all staff (not just members) and students that we had announced a strike before we had announced a strike. That is to say, before we had contextualised the reasons for our vote to our own membership. One might argue this was clearly tactical on his part. That’s the game-playing. A strike is a means to further a process the University is backing away from. If the University returns to serious negotiation, the strike is no longer needed.”

    If these have disappeared from the thread, then it was Mark’s choice, and I apologise to him for bringing them back if that is the case. If Mark did not select to delete these, then we’ll ask wordpress why they might have gone.

  54. Lawrence permalink
    March 12, 2010 11:29 PM

    Thanks for reinstating these two comments of which you had no recollection. I just hope beyond hope that you have not used the fact that I incorrectly stated in my question that the EGM on Tuesday rather than Wednesday to avoid admitting any recollection – I do wonder what “At least not the way you describe it” means.

    You should feel free to reinstate the rest of the missing comments.

    Since it is your contention that any missing comments have disappeared through the original poster’s choice, before we put this to bed please can you tell me how I or any other poster could remove one of our posted comments? I can see no way to do this.

  55. March 13, 2010 7:33 AM

    Dear Lawrence. I don’t know what we can do to satisfy you. For the third time, please come to Mark Taylor-Batty’s office at 11am on Monday and he will show you the history of comments on this post. You will see that no comment has ever been deleted. Ever. UCU simply do not have the time to approve comments and then go through them to delete selected ones. We are being genuine about what we remember and not. Some of us worked a 48 hour week last week, Mark was in hospital with his baby, and we had negotiations and then strike action to co-ordinate. Believe us, your conspiracy theory that we are seeking to delete selected comments and then pretend we hadn’t is not what has gone on. If it was, why would we keep approving your comments that accuse us of doing it? Wouldn’t we just ignore them and not put them up?

    We don’t know how post disappear, but wordpress does mention problems with caching. If you google ‘wordpress comments disappear’ you’ll find all sorts of scenarios where this apparently happens. It might be to do with theme. We’ll investigate and change theme if necessary, as we don’t want to lose any comments. If you go to your own comment and click ‘edit’ (you have to be logged in) you can then delete it. Certainly, we are able to do this when we tested the theory, so we presume all users can.

    We will see you on Monday, and you will see that nobody, ever, has deleted any comment from any blog. You can then see the full history to this and every blog, should you wish, including all edits.

  56. John Porter permalink
    March 13, 2010 7:44 AM

    Lawrence, dude, get a grip! If they wanted to delete comments and get away with it, they wouldn’t be putting up all your questions. This is a moderated blog, and every single comment has to be approved. The same person who is answering your questions is clicking a button marked ‘approve’ to every one of your questions. Why would they do that if they have something to hide? You clearly have little experience of blogs and the kinds of code that go to constructing the automatic features such as comments. You’re like a man watching a ship go over the horizon and saying it’s fallen off the end of the world. Someone keeps telling you ‘no, the world is curved’ and you keep coming back ‘no, it’s fallen off the end of the world’.

    What has been clear throughout this dispute is that UCU have utter integrity, and have posted factual material and have welcomed open comments, including critical ones (and psychotic conspiracy theories) without censorship. That’s what is great about this blog. Now please stop clogging it up with your nonsense accusations about someone deleting posts, take up their invitation to see the proof instead of still spouting on about it, and let’s get back to the really important stuff about how the VC is avoiding the construction of a fair, democratic university that behaves according to its own rules.

  57. Mark permalink
    March 13, 2010 10:26 AM

    I haven’t deleted anything, but nor had I noticed anything disappearing.

    Having dealt with wordpress in the past, I’d blame wordpress. 😉

  58. March 13, 2010 10:50 AM

    Thanks Mark. We’ll send a query to wordpress support explaining that we’re being accused of deleting comments (despite repeatedly offering evidence that we haven’t) and see what they have to say.

  59. confused permalink
    March 14, 2010 12:41 AM

    leedsucu – you said (in the supposedly missing comment https://leedsucu.wordpress.com/2010/03/10/troubles-at-acas-and-todays-events/#comment-434) that
    \”if the University returns to serious negotiation, the strike is no longer needed.”
    Forgive me, but I don\’t follow your logic. Talks were happening, by all accounts they were serious (i.e. were concessions to the UCU\’s favour not being granted?) when the negotiators recommended to the general meeting that there should be a strike. It doesn\’t make sense to now say if management return to negation the strike will not be needed. They only abandoned the talks because you called the strike. Anyone else think this is all a bit daft. Why call a strike in the middle of talks?

  60. confused permalink
    March 14, 2010 12:43 AM

    leedsucu – you said (in the supposedly missing comment https://leedsucu.wordpress.com/2010/03/10/troubles-at-acas-and-todays-events/#comment-434) that\”if the University returns to serious negotiation, the strike is no longer needed.”Forgive me, but I don\’t follow your logic. Talks were happening, by all accounts they were serious (i.e. were concessions to the UCU\’s favour not being granted?) when the negotiators recommended to the general meeting that there should be a strike. It doesn\’t make sense to now say if management return to negation the strike will not be needed. They only abandoned the talks because you called the strike. Anyone else think this is all a bit daft. Why call a strike in the middle of talks?

  61. Lawrence permalink
    March 14, 2010 12:57 AM

    I am genuinely sorry to hear that Mark has been in hospital with his baby. I hope all are well now.

    If you read through my posts you will see that I have never jumped to any conclusions and therefore cannot be accused of being a conspiracy theorist. I have merely tried to establish why 9 comments including those most critical of UCU’s recent actions, were lost. We seem to be living in a time when who said what to whom, and when is especially important (Leeds University and UCU communications passim). Therefore it would be good if the UCU blog could hold on to all of the comments it receives. I have said before, the UCU blog is a wonderful resource and I am trying to help keep it that way (despite what you might think). Critical comments going astray leaves Leeds UCU open to criticism, whatever the reasons behind the disappearance.

    This could have been over very quickly if you had simply responded by saying – yes we’ve looked and we can see that comments have disappeared, we didn’t delete them but we’ll republish them now (as you did for two of the missing comments) and contact wordpress to find out what could have gone wrong and will let you know the outcome – I would have been perfectly satisfied. Instead it has been less straightforward and for my part I apologize if I have been excessively blunt in my posts as I have tried to extract relevant information other than ‘we didn’t do it’.

    I’m glad to hear that you are now contacting wordpress to find out what might have happened. Please do let me know what you find, either here or by email if you prefer.

    Lastly, I think it is the case that blog owners are able to log in and edit or delete comments but respondents to their blog cannot. If I am wrong, I am happy for anyone to let me know how I can delete a comment as I can find no way of logging into the UCU blog to do this.

  62. Lawrence permalink
    March 14, 2010 1:03 AM

    Dear John, thank you for your flat earth analogy but it doesn’t work. Comments did go missing and we don’t know why. If you read my posts you will find that, after accepting that Leeds UCU had not removed them (see my third post March 12), I’m trying to get to find out why this. If you don’t care about this, fair enough.

  63. March 14, 2010 10:52 AM

    We love the freudian slip with ‘negation’, but let’s leave that aside.

    The talks were not progressing and if you look at the last joint statement and download the comparison of agreements made when the first strikes were called off, and the progress made since, you’ll see that in effect very little progress had been made, and nothing as regards any of the reviews, which are the nub of the whole problem. Further to that, in the School of English, during ACAS talks, a document was released to staff in complete contempt of procedure and the unions (the kind of behaviour that began the dispute). It was for these reasons that strike action had to be initiated, as it seemed only with a strike on the horizon were University management willing to talk seriously.

    And with good progress in talks – to which UCU remain committed – the strikes can be called off, certainly. But of course that does depend on progress, not just sitting at the table and causing delays.

  64. March 14, 2010 10:59 AM

    We too want all posts to remain, and we’ll pursue it. When we check all posts in the dashboard, they are all marked as ‘approved’, and so should feature on these pages. The problem with nested Q&As in comments, we understand, can lead to mysterious disappearance. If necessary, we’ll cut and paste the whole chain into a new page, but that will take time we don’t have just yet today. We’ll see what wordpress can advise soon. When Lawrence first accused us of removing critical postings, we audited to look for any post that mentioned sophistry, using that as a search term. To compare what we have in dashboard with what is and isn’t on these comments pages is labourious, so it would be better just to copy and paste the lot, in order. But then some answers will come after further questions, rather than being nested together. Sigh. We’re looking into it. We have never yet deleted any posts, and people should be assured of that.

  65. March 14, 2010 11:00 AM

    We love the freudian slip with ‘negation’, but let’s leave that aside.

    The talks were not progressing and if you look at the last joint statement and download the comparison of agreements made when the first strikes were called off, and the progress made since, you’ll see that in effect very little progress had been made, and nothing as regards any of the reviews, which are the nub of the whole problem. Further to that, in the School of English, during ACAS talks, a document was released to staff in complete contempt of procedure and the unions (the kind of behaviour that began the dispute). It was for these reasons that strike action had to be initiated, as it seemed only with a strike on the horizon were University management willing to talk seriously.

    And with good progress in talks (to which UCU remain committed) the strikes can be called off, certainly. But of course that does depend on progress, not just sitting at the table and causing delays.

  66. March 15, 2010 8:31 AM

    We’ve had a reply from wordpress support. There are two possible solutions to the problem with disappearing comments. Either we switch off the nested comments or we turn off the default setting that creates ‘older comments’ pages. It makes no sense to switch off nested comments (which means when you reply to a comment your reply goes immediately below the one you’re responding to, rather than chronologically at the end of the page, which could be five comments later), so we’ll work out how to switch off the default setting which creates pages of comments. This should solve the problem, but will mean this becomes a very long page! A bit of extra scrolling will be worth the assurance of all approved comments appearing. We should work this out soon. Watch this space.

  67. March 15, 2010 8:47 AM

    OK. That should now be fixed, with all comments showing. We haven’t counted them and checked them against approved comments on the dashboard, but in theory that should have solved the mystery of the disappearing comments.

  68. Lawrence permalink
    March 15, 2010 9:16 PM

    Many thanks for putting everything back and it’s good to know it shouldn’t happen again

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