Published: 7th June, 2018
Dear Leicester UCU member,
As we are sure you are aware, and was made clear at Paul Boyle’s all staff talk last week, the University is about to embark on yet another round of redundancies in order to reduce our University’s “staff cost to income ratio”.
At a well-attended emergency general meeting on 22nd May, the branch debated our response to the forthcoming cuts, and the following motion was unanimously passed:
Staffing budget cuts motion (passed unanimously by 81-0 votes)
This EGM rejects the University Leadership Team’s (ULT) case for a significant cut in the staffing budget over a two-year period. We believe the ULT’s stated objective of reducing the proportion of income spent on staffing costs by five per-cent to a notional ‘sector average’ is an inappropriate target for the University given its relative small size; research-intensive orientation; and provision of a sizeable medical school facility.
This EGM believes that ULT’s planned staffing cuts will lead to job losses among all groups of staff, but especially those on centrally funded fixed-term contracts. It will also result in an increase in workload intensification for remaining staff due to the ULT’s de facto jobs freeze on nearly all vacant posts. This will put teaching staff under severe strain to deliver the University’s statutorily guaranteed suite of programmes thereby damaging the quality of learning and teaching, and most likely result in a worsening of the University’s NSS and TEF ratings.
The resulting workload intensification together with the further damage to already low staff morale will also undermine the capacity and quality of research and scholarship in the University, which is especially pertinent as we are about to enter the intense two-year run-up to the REF2021 census point. In addition, given it is only two-years since the last attempt by ULT to make hundreds of staff redundant, the latest plans are already exacerbating the general sense of job insecurity throughout the University.
This EGM calls upon the ULT to give the following written guarantees by 1st June 2018:
1. that there will not be any compulsory redundancies; and
2. to abide by the legislation on fair treatment of staff on fixed-term contracts by renewing all fixed-term staff contracts except where a business case can be made that that there is a diminishing need, or cessation of the need, for the type of work being undertaken.
This EGM resolves that LUCU undertake the following if the ULT does not give these two guarantees by 1st June:
1. build a joint student and staff campaign of opposition with the Students’ Union and other campus trade unions;
2. launch a public campaign of opposition to the proposed cuts and job losses, including press, broadcast and social media;
3. develop and publicise an alternative financial and strategic case to the ULT’s proposals; and
4. ballot for sustained industrial action to commence from mid-September.
On 1st June we received the following response from the University:
In reply to your email of 23 May, please see the answers to your questions below:
1. That there will not be any compulsory redundancies – the University always seeks to avoid compulsory redundancies, where ever possible, and we have already taken steps to mitigate the risk, including reviewing all posts going into the recruitment process. There will also be the 90-day consultation period in line with the Redundancy Ordinance and, as part of this, staff will be discussing alternatives to the Business Case proposal and supported with seeking redeployment through our agreed process.
2. To abide by the legislation on fair treatment of staff on fixed-term contracts by renewing all fixed-term staff contracts except where a business case can be made that there is a diminishing need, or cessation of the need, for the type of work being undertaken. The process in place does not require a business case for the work to stop or cease. There is, however, a detailed process for consultation for all staff on contracts over 9 months following the agreed Redundancy Ordinance- Part A or Part B. As you are aware sometimes the funding for continuation of a contract is received and extensions are then put in place. If this extends continuity of service beyond four years, the process will be started to convert staff to open-ended contracts (although these may still be subjected to limited funds). If the extension is less then staff will ordinarily remain on an fixed term contract. Therefore, for staff on fixed term contracts a thorough review is undertaken and if there is a business reason/funding the contract is extended.
Registrar and Chief Operating Officer
Given the clear indication that the University will press on with its programme of:
1) Redundancies – these can never be justified where buildings take priority over jobs
2) Shameful treatment of fixed term contract staff – An employer is bound by law to continue/extend a Fixed Term Contract unless a specific business case can be made against it (and the end of funding cannot in itself be a reason for discontinuation of the contract – even at the ‘end date’). There is no need to develop a business case to support the extension of a Fixed Term Contract.
We will now begin the activities to oppose the University’s plans and begin the process of consulting with the branch membership over strike action.