“Every page of the document shows that this exercise is clearly cost driven”…… Unions first response to GCU management’s ‘restructuring’ proposals

Firstly the Trade Union acknowledges we were given sight of this document (Cluster Proposals ) 48 hours before it was issued to all staff. However it is very difficult to understand the proposed changes without seeing the current structures, and the University’s failure to provide all the appropriate information may render the consultation less than meaningful.

Indeed without this information there is an undermining of trade union representation as these figures will mean a lot to staff who could lose their posts, but for full time officials and local union reps who have agreed to confidentiality and thus cannot consult with affected members we have in a sense one hand tied behind our back.

In short all unions; the EIS, UCU, UNISON and UNITE, will need to fully consult with their respective members within the 6 clusters and use their expertise in forming a detailed union response (and counter proposals) to the University’s proposals.

Bearing that in mind the Unions would make a few general observations on the document and several more specific points about the clusters.

  1. Every page of the document shows that this exercise is clearly cost driven. It seems intent on delivering a number of redundancies. All the unions believe the numbers here are unduly large. However, there is a clear contradiction: the University has not outlined areas where it will cease carrying out work, or even diminishing the amount of work; therefore the need for redundancies has not been shown. It seems that University management want staff to deliver the same services or even more with less of them. If the University want to make posts “redundant” it would be useful for the University to outline areas that it wants to diminish or cease work in. All unions will campaign against the principle of employees taking on additional work from redundant colleagues.
  2. Bizarrely, the document suggests appointments will be made in spite of job losses – e.g. in Cluster 4 there appear to be plans for jobs to be created in financial services and international recruitment. This echoes senior management’s point blank refusal to remove the advert for the £80K a year post (plus bonus) for Head of International Recruitment. The trade unions reiterate the need for an immediate complete recruitment freeze. It is unacceptable to propose redundancies and then to follow that with new appointments a few months later.
  3. As this is a cost cutting exercise it seems strange that there are no alternatives considered other than cutting staff numbers. Redeployment and other avoidance of redundancy measures are not mentioned. In contrast, the Trade Unions have proposed immediate reviews in three areas that could save considerable money for the University without the need for job losses:

a. Capital Expenditure

b. GCU London

c. Executive Salary, Expenses, Perks and Structures.

  1. We have a problem at GCU of a burgeoning senior management structure in extremely highly paid jobs. This document intensifies this problem of increasing senior management posts at the expense of frontline staff. If these proposals are implemented they will further exacerbate the imbalance between management and workers. It is unjustifiable to increase senior management positions at a time of losing numerous staff at lower grades.
  2. In terms of the use of grades there is a large degree of inconsistency. How can grading be done without role profiles – it is admitted on the first page of the document this has not been done. Further a number of lecturers are graded at grade 6. How can this happen? The HERA process that was implemented at this university through a jointly negotiated process by trade unions and management graded lecturers at grade 7. If implemented this would represent a downgrading of academic staff.
  3. Many of these proposals will fundamentally damage the university’s mission to widen access for those who in the past would have found it difficult or indeed impossible to access Higher Education. Real substantive posts that help students on the front line would be lost if these proposals are implemented.

CLUSTERS

Cluster 1

Cannot comment without additional information on the existing structures

Cluster 2

It is a strategic mistake to disband the Effective Learning Service, ICT skills and the Summer School, all of which are essential to the university’s widening access programme. The removal of these will substantially damage the university’s reputation. This will subsequently have a knock on effect on progression and retention which will adversely impact on the university’s funding from the Scottish Funding Council.

This also redistributes work so that the effectiveness is substantially damaged. The need for these services will not disappear. So, as well as causing irreparable damage, it is clearly not a redundancy situation and will increase workload and duplication across the University.

Cluster 3

This cluster seems to create two new senior management roles in the area of Student Services making it very top heavy. Again this will be at the expense of frontline staff.

In the area of Library Services Prof Karen Stanton (now a member of the Executive) while working for another organisation, intimated that the library required more staff and resources. In contradiction this proposal reduces frontline services provided by the library which will dramatically damage the student experience.

The covering document for this cluster makes reference to the campus master plan as an immediate priority rather than a long term aspiration – over 20-25 years away – as was most recently indicated by Jan Hulme, the University Secretary, at a previous consultation meeting with trade union representatives.

Note that a distinct area in the Library is proposed to be identified as GCU London & Research – this is inappropriate and unacceptable given the failure of GCU London to attract any significant numbers of students. To divert resources from Scotland also contradicts the funding of GCU London as it is not part of our core activity and therefore we cannot use SFC resources to cover this; in effect the Scottish tax payer will be cross subsidising the London campus.

The covering sheet also makes mention of changing terms and conditions (working hours) of staff on the Base and IT Helpdesk. This is a contractual issue which requires negotiation with the recognised trade unions, not put in as part of a restructuring proposal. This should be removed from the document.

Cluster 4

Cannot comment without additional information on the existing structures.

Cluster 5

Cannot comment without additional information on the existing structures.

Cluster 6

Cannot comment without additional information on the existing structures.

Please watch this space for further developments

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This entry was posted in Combined Union Committee, Court, Cuts, Executive Board, GCU London, Management, NUS and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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