To begin with a quote from the message management formally gave the Unions at the consultation meeting yesterday
“We are not at this moment in a position to guarantee no compulsory redundancies, but have stated that we will remove the risk of redundancy in respect of this consultation if and when we are in a position to do so”
This was followed by the email yesterday which said that management could “ unequivocally confirm” that there would be no threat to school based staff. Management informed us of this yesterday and asked the unions to endorse this move, we rejected this. The Unions have never been given detailed structures of what the administrative support for schools would be – unlike in the Central Clusters. This was confirmed in the message of Mike Smith on 18th April:
“You may recall that the University Court paper dated 3 March provided some information regarding the proposals for administrative and support structures in the new Schools. The Restructuring Coordination Group are continuing to work on further detail regarding these proposals, including financial analysis of where savings could be made within Schools in order to contribute to our £5million savings target. We plan to circulate this additional proposal information week commencing 2 May.”
Further today a message has been sent out that this promise has been extended to staff in Facilities and Estate management.
“Divide and Rule”
The Unions’ reasons for refusing to endorse this approach were clear. The Trade Unions have run a successful campaign against the redundancies since the threat was announced by management at 8.30pm in the evening on the 3rd March. This has mobilised 100s of staff and students and garnered broad political support.
UNISON, the biggest union on campus, as part of the campaign ran a consultative ballot with an unprecedented 97% Yes vote –the other unions on campus: EIS,UCU and UNITE are organising their own ballots.
Yet despite the success the unions made a genuine offer to end this local campaign if management withdrew the threat of compulsory redundancies. They refused this request.
However it seems to counter this initiative they have specifically mentioned that two groups of staff are being excluded from compulsory redundancies.
This piecemeal approach to compulsory redundancies is unacceptable.
Although it is to be welcomed when any group of staff escape the threat of losing their job to do it in this way puts more pressure on those groups of staff who are not mentioned.
This is clearly an attempt to divide and isolate staff by management and to head off the threat of industrial action from the unions and more demonstrations across the institution.
For the unions this is a principled issue; we will not accept any compulsory redundancies at GCU.
By being so explicit about protecting groups of staff the University may also be painting themselves into a corner legally. By excluding groups of staff “unequivocally” the University will find it difficult to justify why these groups have been protected where others have been targeted for redundancy – opening the door to unfair dismissal claims.
It would be naive to assume that if management succeed in asserting their right to make staff compulsorily redundant, whatever the number involved, that it will not become their preferred approach in resolving structural and financial issues.
Given the academic staff are subject to review in September we can assume that their attitude to compulsory redundancy then will be heavily influenced by staff actions now.
Stand Strong. Now is the time to support each other so no member becomes isolated and feels they are being targeted for compulsory redundancy.
Our campaign continues – we have launched a petition for Court calling for the suspension of the threat of redundancy.
Sign it and get your colleagues to do the same.
No Compulsory Redundancies at GCU.
Have a good weekend
All the best Nick
Dr Nick McKerrell Convenor of GCU Combined Union Committee