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Open letter to senior staff at the University of Bradford

November 18, 2014

Yesterday we sent this letter to senior staff at the University of Bradford. It was signed by officers and committee members from the UCU branches at Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, and York. If you agree, add a comment at the bottom of the page.

An open letter to senior staff at the University of Bradford

from colleagues at the Universities of Hull, Leeds, Sheffield and York (and beyond).

Dear Colleagues,

We are writing to communicate our sorrow and indignation at the treatment of University of Bradford staff by its management, in relation to the current dispute over detriment to future pension provision. As members of neighbouring scholarly communities, with significant academic relationships with staff at Bradford, we are saddened to see you university’s management apply what we believe currently to be the worst and most punitive approach in the sector to legitimate and legal protest. The attitude of your management to this protest is to do its utmost to quash access to that protest, through threat and fear. This race to the bottom on the national stage is a matter of shame not just for the University, but for its partners and stakeholders in the Bradford and broader West Yorkshire community, and we copy this letter to many such individuals and organisations.

We understand a University’s duty to protect students from the consequences of its own actions and attitudes, as in this case, but to do so by threatening staff by removing their salaries altogether for taking part in a protest that would see them boycotting a part of their work that represents in most cases no more than 5% of workload is beyond punitive, we believe it is bullying. To add to that the threat of removing the death in service benefits of their pension scheme unless they declare they are taking such protest is shocking. In doing so, your management wields its assault not only on its staff, but on their families, their spouses, their children. To then go as far as suggest that they will apply a sanction that we understand no other employer, in any sector, has applied since 1959 (joining members of staff to potential litigation) clearly articulates that this is not only an all-time low in employer-employee relationships at the University of Bradford, but that the University is leading the way nationally in dragging industrial relations back to the 19th century. Some of this behaviour may even represent a violation of workers’ human rights. You may support the University in these ambitions, but we would appeal to the common sense and decency that ordinarily resides in such institutions of liberal humanism.

We are concerned to know if this threatening and bullying behaviour makes students, their parents, and the wider Bradford community proud of the institution at the heart of the city and its vibrant business, commercial and creative industries. We are certainly disheartened, and beyond shocked. As your colleagues, as your neighbours (quite literally in many cases), we believe most firmly that an attack on one is an attack on all of us and we would support a call for grey-listing of the University of Bradford, and call on our union to instigate national strikes in support of colleagues suffering the bullying attitudes of managements which bring such valuable institutions into disrepute. Blinkered and short-sighted managers should recognise that in lighting a injurious flame to scorch the good-will of the people who bring the university its rewards and reputation, they ignite regional and national fires of vexation and solidarity. We request that University management remove the pernicious and vindictive elements of its response to legitimate protest, including the disproportionate 100% pay dock, and enter into discussions with union officials, local, regional and national, to find an effective and collegial way of improving industrial relations, to the benefit of staff and students everywhere.


Mark Taylor-Batty, President, UCU, University of Leeds

Colin Hendrie, Vice-president, UCU, University of Leeds

Jeremy Toner – Treasurer, UCU, University of Leeds

Vicky Blake, Recruitment and Membership secretary, UCU, University of Leeds

Neil Maughan, Health and Safety, UCU, University of Leeds

Lesley McGorrigan, Campaigns Secretary, UCU, University of Leeds

Ann Blair, Past president, UCU, University of Leeds

Stephen French, committee member, UCU, University of Leeds

Elwyn Isaac, committee member, UCU, University of Leeds

Ben Plumton, committee member, UCU, University of Leeds

Stephen Lax, committee member, UCU, University of Leeds

Brendon Nicholls, committee member, UCU, University of Leeds

Malcolm Povey, committee member, UCU, University of Leeds

Paul Steenson, committee member, UCU, University of Leeds

Mark Walkley, committee member, UCU, University of Leeds

Andrew West, committee member, UCU, University of Leeds

Keith Butler – President, UCU, University of Hull

Linda Clements – Vice President and Pensions Officer, UCU, University of Hull

Paul Chin – Vice President, UCU, University of Hull

Helen MacCarthy – Branch Secretary, UCU, University of Hull

Mike Lammiman – Membership Secretary and Campaigns Officer, UCU, University of Hull

John Warden – Anti-Casualisation Officer, UCU, University of Hull

Jean Kellie – committee Member, UCU, University of Hull

David Pennie – committee Member, UCU, University of Hull

Geoffrey Wall – President, UCU, University of York

Joanna De Groot – Vice-President, UCU, University of York

James Cussens – Honorary Secretary, UCU, University of York

Jon Fanning – Treasurer, UCU, University of York

Stephen Minta – ordinary member, UCU, University of York

Chris Copland – ordinary member, UCU, University of York

Kevin McManus – ordinary member, UCU, University of York

Robin Jervis – ordinary member, UCU, University of York

Craig Brandist – President, UCU, University of Sheffield

Pablo Stern – Treasurer,  UCU, University of Sheffield

Gillian Brown – committee member, UCU, University of Sheffield

15 Comments leave one →
  1. Daragh O'Reilly permalink
    November 18, 2014 11:24 AM

    I worked at Bradford University for ten years. I hope the HEC takes note at its meeting tomorrow. Who could seriously think of suspending the action when this sort of managerial viciousness is going on?

  2. November 18, 2014 11:37 AM

    Reblogged this on uobucu and commented:
    Thanks to all for the support.
    Please share and sign

  3. John Rodgers permalink
    November 18, 2014 12:12 PM

    I worked at Bradford University for about 15 years, and am totally appalled by the manner in which management at that institution is treating its most valuable resource.

  4. Sorcha Ui Chonnachtaigh permalink
    November 18, 2014 12:27 PM

    Sorcha Ui Chonnachtaigh, President, Keele UCU

  5. Gary Slater permalink
    November 18, 2014 12:42 PM

    I recently left the University of Bradford and staff morale was already low before this. The University has ambitions and the talent to be strong again but not with this management behaviour. Bullies are generally weak.

  6. Sarah George permalink
    November 18, 2014 1:58 PM

    As one being threatened with losing all my pay for marking one exam a year, thank you for your support, much appreciated

  7. Cllr Kevin Warnes permalink
    November 18, 2014 7:07 PM

    As a former Peace Studies postgrad and now longstanding Bradford councillor (Green, Shipley), I am appalled that the university management seems bent on destroying what little goodwill remains among its key employees. As Bradford gets up off its knees, with city centre projects underway and a sense of civic renewal in the air, our university is heading in the opposite direction. And, with my other hat on as a teacher of A level Government and Politics at a sixth form college in neighbouring Leeds, I am sorry to say that it has been a number of years since I felt able to recommend Bradford University as a place of study for our students. I would rather see them thrive elsewhere in healthier and safer institutions. At the end of the day, this kind of endemic organisational decay is a sad consequence of years of low grade, bullying and harassing leadership at the university, despite the inflated salaries trousered by these so-called public servants.

  8. Richard Woodcock permalink
    November 18, 2014 8:07 PM

    This is a disgraceful attack on the dedicated and hard-working academic staff at the University of Bradford, where I used to work. Staff morale has dropped dramatically in the last few years, and the current vice-chancellor and his senior staff have introduced an increasingly punitive approach to industrial action of any kind. The current threat to pensions is unprecedented. Management should be supporting staff in their struggle to protect their retirement income. They tread a foolish and dangerous path – the goodwill of academic staff is not limitless, and Bradford’s growing reputation for poor industrial relations will do inevitable harm to the university’s recruitment of new staff and prospective students.

  9. Jonas Balakauskas permalink
    November 19, 2014 1:13 AM

    Student @ University of Bradford. The well-being of my tutors directly affects the quality of my studies. I wish the academic staff to be treated with love and respect they deserve and to receive a quality degree.

  10. Rev Chris Howson permalink
    November 19, 2014 1:17 PM

    This is deeply disturbing, and part of a pattern I had hoped was ending. A few years ago, whilst working as one of the Chaplaincy team at the University, I was threatened with libel action for daring to bring up the serious level of abuse by senior staff against their colleagues, and I was subsequently ‘bullied’ off starting an MA in the Peace Studies Dept. Bradford University is a great place, one I am still proud to be associated with. however, the culture of bullying was so sickening, I left the city disheartened and disappointed. Solidarity with those still struggling with ongoing issues in the University.

  11. Suzy Russell permalink
    November 19, 2014 6:22 PM

    We work with the University and are really concerned about this total disregard for staff and fairness. What an embarrassment for the city.

    Suzy Russell

  12. Pam Davies permalink
    November 19, 2014 7:14 PM

    As a former committee member of Leeds AUT, and much earlier an employee of the University of Bradford 1973-74, I’m shocked at the poor behaviour of UoB management and their threats against my colleagues.

  13. Nick Allen permalink
    November 20, 2014 12:09 PM

    As Chair of University of Leeds branch of UNISON, I am appalled both personally and professionally at these threats which are unnecessarily provocative and vindictive. Our branch offers solidarity and support to our sister union, the UCU.

  14. Anonymous permalink
    November 22, 2014 4:45 PM

    Not only are academic’s bullied but admin also with, if you don’t accept a downgrade you are redundant. Disgraceful.


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