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Over 1000 jobs threatened at Leeds: the evidence

February 14, 2011

Michael Arthur University of Leeds Vice-ChancellorIn a letter to all staff on Friday 11 February, our VC Michael Arthur again repeated his accusation that UCU’s claim that over a thousand jobs at Leeds were at risk was not true.

Interestingly, even though he is addressing staff directly, and uses more than fifteen times as many words in the 11 February all-staff letter than in the public letter of 7 February, he does not repeat the accusation that UCU lied about how the “university seeks to impose a method for attaching a numerical score to all members of academic staff'”. Perhaps he refrains from doing so because he subsequently discovered we had the proof that this has happened, and knew he could no longer stand by that accusation in an all-staff mailing.

Today, we are now posting the evidence of those thousand jobs, by posting our summary of information contained on HR1 forms received by the UCU – these accompany the formal Section 188 notifications of redundancies. Click on the image below to enlarge it. You will see the dates at which your union received the notices, the dates of proposed dismissal, the categories of staff each notice covered, and the numbers of staff in those categories for whom redundancy became a real possibility. We have never said that all these jobs will go, but it is demonstrably true that over a thousand jobs are put at threat by these section 188 notices. Remember, in law, a Section 188 notice (Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act, 1992) needs only be sent to trade unions if – AND ONY IF – there is a threat of staff being made redundant. See here to read the letter of the law. There is nothing in that law that says management might go to the trouble of abiding by it ‘just in case’ they might, one day, possibly, want to make a few people redundant.

When you look at these statistics, remember that your VC wants you to believe that claiming these facts exist is “reckless and untrue”. Why? Ask yourself, as you look at the data actually supplied by the offices that neighbour the VC’s – why would he wish to misrepresent this material? Or does he not know about it? Which is worse? Why would he want to make you believe the UCU is being unreasonable in exposing the truth, and why would he attempt repeatedly to undermine your elected representatives and their elected leaders, even going so far as claiming that he himself represents your views?

This weekend, we learned that Gateshead College management has announced to UCU that it will not implement a single redundancy, and pledged to work with staff to mitigate the effects of government cuts. Why is it seemingly impossible for a Russell Group University with purported world-class aspirations (and so much money it must suspend overnight trading and even receive advice from the banks to open a second account) to do the same?

University of Leeds redundancies Michael Arthur Vice-Chancellor Russell Group

Click on image to see full detail

4 Comments leave one →
  1. An academic permalink
    February 14, 2011 10:55 AM

    The only way the VC’s sums add up is if you assume that these people’s jobs don’t count.

    I’m so glad that we have the UCU representing us.

  2. Colour Scientist permalink
    February 14, 2011 11:27 AM

    Fascinating. Stephen Scott tells us in his blog that the UCU are moaning about not giving permanent jobs to student helpers, but here it shows a very large number of academic posts under threat, not to mention all the others. And, yes, Steve we should be worried about the casualisation of academic roles by the University’s over-reliance on Fixed-term contracts. Didn’t the university sign up to an agreement to reduce casualisation? Or would that be one of the agreements the University management choose not to honour? Remarkable: staff at Leeds get the pro-VC for Staff in a blog on 11 February actually boasting we have over a quarter of staff in the University employed on fixed term contracts? I for one will go into dispute on that alone! Put down the stones and move out of your glass house.

    I support UCU, I’m glad they support me, Michael Arthur should not state he is speaking on my behalf.

  3. Mark permalink
    February 14, 2011 2:49 PM

    This whole situation worries me hugely. It seemed clear to me before the last campaign a year ago that there was a likelihood that 2010 would see a change of government and that any new government would be unsympathetic to HE. It seemed to me then (and I said so at a UCU meeting) that while we had issues with local management, this was an area on which there was common ground and that we should (where possible) work together to avoid the worst. I feel we did little on that front, we got a new government, and there’s no point in stating the obvious about the impact that has had.

    A year on, and it seems that we are in an even worse situation, there is even less common ground and even less desire to find any common ground on either side. At the same time, we have an unsympathetic government who are happy to blame everything on the last government, claim that there is no alternative to swingeing cuts and stand firm on the changes to the HE funding model. While no union can give ground on some of these issues, it does feel as though we are looking for out-and-out war – and the question we should all ask is what the likely outcome of each of these skirmishes. In the time we spend on stand-offs and rhetoric shouted between respective blogs, we are solving nothing – though time ensures that careers and education are damaged by default.

    As Bertrand Russell famously said: War does not determine who is right – only who is left.

    Let us not sit back in a year to celebrate a phyrric victory…assuming there is even that.

  4. February 14, 2011 4:16 PM

    It’s good to get a reflective and considered comment. Certainly, we are beginning to find ourselves in a less comfortable relationship with management. It is difficult for elected staff representatives to stand by and be accused of telling lies and of being the root cause of dispute without responding in our defence, and in the defence of the many members that voted for ballot. We would also be failing in our duty if we permit management to refuse to honour agreements that were forged on the back of a difficult dispute last year.

    Certainly, we need to find common ground between staff and management, and our aspirations for our institution. But not all VCs were vocal in criticising the consequences of Browne, and some acquiesced far too readily, perceiving perhaps that their own institutions might benefit where others would experience more difficulties. At a national level, it has been recognised that those who lead UK HE had perhaps acquiesced too soon to the possibility of cuts, paving the way for Browne et al. So, if we are looking for common ground to defend education at a national level, it would be difficult to find outside the trade union and student movements.

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