History of negotiations over Statute VII
We want to offer a brief history of negotiations on the matter of SOSR at Leeds, to counter some of the false or misleading narratives that the University is putting out.
Negotiations on the modernisation of Statute VII began in 2008, but at that stage there was no intention to include ‘Some Other Substantial Reason’, to the knowledge of the UCU. The current red herring argument that this is needed due to the 1996 Employment Rights Act is deliberately misleading, as we previously explained.
Early negotiations were halted due to a local dispute, and a series of other disputes or more compelling business kept them off the table for some years. The UCU and the University finally met again on this matter in the summer of 2014.
The matter of ‘Some Other Substantial Reason’ was then tabled. UCU expressed immediate unhappiness with the proposal, and it was agreed that we should concentrate on matters that we might agree on first, and return to the thornier questions later.
The meetings were mostly cordial and collegial. We discussed the proposed new Statute in great detail, sentence by sentence, over a number of meetings. We sought to ensure procedures were comparable and fair. We never got to talking in any detail on SOSR. But we did ‘bank’ a version of the document in September 2015 subject to further negotiation on that substantive issue and other drafting issues. This took place at the Joint Committee of the University and the UCU, the formal organ for agreements between the University and your Union. The University have subsequently reneged upon elements of this agreement, bringing into question the very nature of the recognition of the UCU by the University.
To the surprise of UCU, we were then not invited to any further meetings on the matter of SOSR for the rest of the 2015-16 academic year. We were finally invited in September 2016, and of course were unable to come to an agreement in just one meeting.
Despite negotiations not having been completed, the Head of HR insisted that the draft document go to Senate just a month later, in October, and to Council in November, ostensibly for agreement. This was pushing still further at the issue of whether the recognised procedures would be respected or not. We understand that the University is now arguing that Senate has seen and approved the document – despite it being a.) in draft at that stage b.) different in substantial parts in later iterations and c.) not yet negotiated.
Early in 2017, the University suggested that they meet with UCU under the auspices of ACAS. The UCU then explained that the University should follow the disputes resolution procedure first, and that would have ACAS as a final step. ACAS themselves have indicated that the University should complete negotiations before using their services.
The UCU has maintained all along, and still do, that we want to resolve this matter through negotiation, as per the recommendation from ACAS. The University has unilaterally broken off negotiations, declaring as much in a statement to staff on 14 March.
We are pleased that this week we have been able to convince the University back to the negotiating table.