Troubles at ACAS and today’s events
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.