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Engagement of staff and termination of contracts

February 24, 2011

In response to
http://www.leeds.ac.uk/forstaff/news/article/1514/pro-vice_chancellor_stephen_scott_responds_to_ucu_claims.

Malcolm Povey points out:

The way contracts are ended is in breach of University Statute and the recognition agreement with the UCU which states  that “conditions and procedures under which appointments are terminated” are for negotiation and consultation.

Universities are one of the most casualized employment sectors in the UK. Last month, out of around 7600 staff, over 2600 were on fixed term contracts. The university is also threatening redundancies amongst those who are on ‘open ended’ contracts. Of the 2600, currently over 10% have been employed for more than four years and the university has had a duty for a number of years to employ these people on open-ended contracts. This evidence supports our claim that the university is wedded to the employment of staff on serial short-term contracts.

For the first time, the UCU has been given cast iron evidence (through Section 188 notices) of changes in university employment and the UCU differs from the University on how these figures are to be interpreted. One big question remains unanswered by the University, why are there over one thousand people affected by threats to their jobs with contracts up for renewal, over the six month period July 2010 to January 2011? What other explanation can there be for this fact other than a block on renewal of contracts or a shortening of contract periods?

Between July 2010 and September 2010 staff numbers fell from 8268 to 7518, a total of 750. Since then staff numbers have increased by nearly 300  to 7813. Clearly the university has unilaterally changed its procedures for engagement of staff and termination of contracts. It has done this without consultation with the Unions.

University management failure to honour to the recognition agreement with the UCU underlies our local dispute. A YES vote in the ballots is crucial if the UCU is to mount an effective defence of Jobs and Education.

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