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Local dispute (1): the threat of redundancies in the Centre for Joint Honours

January 26, 2011
University of Leeds Joint Honours to be closed

The Centre for Joint Honours - under threat

In coming days, we will be spelling out the various elements of our current dispute with the University of Leeds. Today: the threat of redundancies.

In December 2010, the UCU at Leeds wrote to Michael Arthur to detail the elements of our dispute with the University. We proposed that, to avoid escalating dispute, we might seek the services of ACAS to arbitrate between the University and the union. In a letter dated 14 January, the VC rejected that proposal

The decision of the UCU General Meeting of 9 November 2010 as follows “The LA notes proposals carried in Senate to restructure the Centre for Joint Honours (CJH). The paper contains no proposals for how the higher level administrative functions of the Centre are to be carried out. The obvious conclusion is that the work will simply be dumped on already overstretched staff in the Schools, while our members will be displaced from their jobs. The LA has twice requested further information from University management in the ESRG about this but the proposal to restructure was taken to Senate regardless of our concerns. The LA does not believe that there is a diminishing need for these jobs, for the most part Joint Honours programmes will continue to be delivered; current and prospective students will still need to be looked after. The LA calls on university management to redeploy our members into the relevant Schools. The LA resolves should this not happen that our members will not pick up the work of our colleagues in the CJH. Should the university management move to make our members redundant in CJH or any other part of the University, the LA will ballot for industrial action.”

Subsequent to that General Meeting of the UCU, the University issued a Section 188 notice of redundancy regarding the Centre for Joint Honours on 16 November 2010. The UCU raised this with the university as an item at the Extra Joint Committee of the University and the UCU (JCUU) held on Wednesday 1 December. At that meeting we were told that the inclusion of the Centre for Joint Honours in the letter of 16 November was merely a ‘legal requirement’.

To be absolutely clear, the Section 188 letter is a legal requirement if, but only if, the university is ‘considering’ redundancies. The UCU cannot accept this given that we are told that the ‘problem’ with CJH relates to relocation of only a handful of staff, that would ease the transfer of activity into the Schools and Faculties (furthermore, we believe this represents the re-establishment of a model that had previously failed). We believe that important information was withheld from the Senate and the ESRG in the move from stage 2 to stage 3 of this review relating to discussions and lack of discussions in those Faculties that are most affected.

Given that the CJH members are still facing a threat of redundancy (not to mention the continued threat of same in FBS), and an offer of arbitration has been rejected, we now move to ballot.

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