Friday, 18 December 2009

The scale of management failures at London Met "is unprecedented in higher education in this country"

Further news coverage follows the forced resignation of the Board of Governors. You can see reports in the Guardian here, and the Independent here.
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Thursday, 17 December 2009

Board of Governors announce their resignations

The resignations of the Board of Governors has today been announced, via a Joint Statement between London Metropolitan University and HEFCE.

You can view the statement here:
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News coverage follows major protest outside Board of Governors meeting

A major protest organised by staff and students outside the Board of Governors meeting on Tuesday evening, urging them to accept culpability for their handling of the university's financial crisis and resign, has provoked national press coverage. You can see reports in the Independent, the Times Higher Education Supplement, the BBC, and the Guardian
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Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Protest Board of Governors - 15th December - resign now!

The Board of Governors of London Metropolitan University are meeting on 15th December to consider their response to the recent reports into the financial fiasco they got us into. Both staff unions, UNISON and UCU, and London Met students union, are now calling for their resignations and for a Fresh start at London Met.

We will be presenting them with our petition. Come and join our final lobby/ rally/ protest for 2009 and give them a last push:
  • Tuesday 15th December,
  • 4.00pm Moorgate Building, (see map)
Note change of time to 4pm start - get there early; 3.45pm

Download the student union leaflet.

Sign the on-line petition.

This is now a matter of survival - the government has threatened to close London Metropolitan University if they don't go. Bring banners, placards, tell everyone you know to leave work/ lectures early - this is our university, we value it highly, and they've got to go. They've done enough damage already, it's time for a Fresh start for London Met!

Join the Lobby - please forward to all your contacts.
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Monday, 7 December 2009

Joint petition between students and staff

The students union at London Metropolitan University is now supporting the call for resignations.

Download the new petition here.

Read the full post with comments!

Uncensored version of Deloitte report

The uncensored version of the Deloitte report has also been published by Wikileaks in full. Go here to download as a pdf. See the summary of this report here by Sir David Melville.
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Joint union petition calling on London Met Governors and Exec to resign now

Both unions have launched a petition demanding the board of governors and exec group resign immediately. If you work or study at London Metropolitan University, print this petition, sign it, pass it round to everyone you know, and return it to a union rep ASAP.

The government, meanwhile has issued an ultimatum:

London Met warned that it could be closed

Governors' refusal to resign over university's £36m 'scam' could lead to funding being withdrawn

The university accused of a £36m scam involving false funding claims for thousands of students was told by ministers last night to take "urgent" action after its governors refused to resign.

Read the full article here in the Independent.

Read the letter from London Met Uni staff and union reps published in the Independent.
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Thursday, 3 December 2009

Melville Report summary 'Wikileak'

'Wikileaks' have published the report here. Download as a pdf.

We feel completely vindicated in our position that the management at London Met must take responsibility for this crisis: not front line staff. What we have said about a bullying management culture at London Met is backed up by this report which describes the widely-held perception of:

“A highly centralised and dictatorial executive led by the vice-chancellor, which was incapable of listening to what was going on in the university, discouraged or ignored criticism and made decisions without consultation.”

We notice that nobody has yet resigned over this, and that the deadline given by HEFCE (last Friday) has not been met with the expected response. If the funding body has no confidence in the management, we the staff have no confidence, who on earth does? When will heads be rolling over this?

Watch this space for the results of a vote of no confidence organised by both unions. A petition is already being circulated calling for resignations and a 'Fresh Start' for London Met.

It's worth asking why, when the Nursery in Hornsey Rd got a 'Good' or 'Outstanding' in their OFSTED report of 2008, do they have to close down in 2010? Compare that to the Board of Governors and senior staff at London Met getting a 'no confidence letter' from HEFCE: can some one explain why they're all still in place?
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Wednesday, 25 November 2009

National press coverage follows publication of the Melville Inquiry

The publication of the Melville report into the financial crisis at London Met has provoked national press coverage. In addition to the article in The Independent below, the report, which is highly critical of ex-Vice Chancellor Brian Roper and the senior management team, has been reported in The Guardian, The Telegraph, the Times Higher Education, the London Evening Standard, the Press Association and the BBC. More in The Independent here and here. See also commentary in The Tribune Blog.
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Monday, 23 November 2009

University accused of £36m student scam

University accused of £36m student scam

Governors urged to quit after college falsely claimed for thousands of undergraduates

The body which funds English universities has taken the unprecedented step of calling for the mass resignation of governors at a university accused of misusing public money.

A letter seen by The Independent from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) to the chairman of governors at London Metropolitan University calls on members of the governing body and senior staff to "consider their position".

Read the rest here...

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Saturday, 21 November 2009

We got our enquiry, now we want the results

In the long campaign for a public enquiry into the mess of London Met finances, we've finally got the report we wanted. See here and here for reports on the 'Dictatorial management style', vindicating the unions' position on who is to blame for the crisis.

It's worth remembering not only that we had been campaigning for all this to come out into the open, but that there have been several attempts to suppress previous, similar reports by repeatedly threatening legal action in the past (sometimes successfully) They have a habit of clinging on regardless of these damaging audits and reviews.

So the question now is what will the new VC, Malcolm Gillies, do about all this? Listen to the report and talk to the unions to try to move on? Or let management try to bury this and carry on with the cuts regardless? Answers on a postcard (or a 'comment' below) please ... More importantly, what can we do to make sure management don't get away with this all over again?

Read the full post with comments!

'Financial shambles' at university (PA / BBC news)

Cash-crisis university criticised

A financial mismanagement report on a London university has found board members were aware unfair funding claims were made for the institution.

London Metropolitan University (LMU) was ordered to repay £36.5m after issuing false data on student numbers. (BBC News Online).


'Financial shambles' at university

Senior officials at London Metropolitan University must take responsibility for a financial shambles which has left the institution paying back millions of pounds of public funding, according to an independent review. (UKPA)

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Friday, 20 November 2009

Gillies to lead London Met

Former head of City named as new vice-chancellor

19 November
by Rebecca Attwood in Times Higher Education

Malcolm Gillies, who resigned as head of City University London in July, has been appointed the new vice-chancellor of troubled London Metropolitan University.

London Met has been forced to repay more than £36 million to the Higher Education Funding Council for England after major inaccuracies were discovered in its student-completion data.

Hefce has also reduced the university’s recurrent grant by £15 million.

The previous vice-chancellor, Brian Roper, left in March, and reports into the crisis have criticised the way the institution was managed and governed.

Last night, London Met’s board of governors appointed Professor Gillies to the role.

Read the full article here...
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London Met’s board bears responsibility (THES)

London Met’s board bears responsibility

20 November 2009

Report into overpayments to university finds top officials were aware of problems but took no action. Rebecca Attwood reports

Brian Roper, the former vice-chancellor of London Metropolitan University, presided over a dictatorial management regime and must take “the major responsibility and culpability” for the fact that the university has been forced to hand back tens of millions of pounds in cash.

That is the conclusion of a review by Sir David Melville, the former vice-chancellor of the University of Kent, commissioned by London Met to investigate how the university came to massively overclaim from the Higher Education Funding Council for England after submitting inaccurate data about its students.

............ Read the rest here.

It's worth remembering our guide to commenting on the media here before getting too wound up by some of the strange comments over there.
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Friday, 13 November 2009

Lobby Board of Governors - 18th November

Students and Staff rally on 15th Oct. Photo (c) Guy Smallman

The Board of Governors meet on Wed 18th November - Tower Building, Holloway Road - 5pm

They are expecting to appoint a new Vice Chancellor for London Met. We need to make clear to the new VC and the Board our demands remain:

  • No job cuts!
  • No outsourcing!
  • No course closures!
  • Save our nursery!

Read the full post with comments!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Press and support for strike on 15th and 16th October 2009

See below for a collection of articles and messages of solidarity for the joint UCU/Unison strike action at London Met on 15th and 16th October 2009 in protest at redundancies and further cuts to student services.

East London Advertiser...

Islington Gazette...

Socialist Worker...

Socialist Party...

Tower Hamlets Council...

Education Solidarity Network...


International support from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, and a link to the copy of the letter sent by CAUT to the London Met Vice-Chancellor, Alfred Morris...

For more individual messages of support, see our Messages of Support page...
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Saturday, 17 October 2009

More photos, reports and videos of Oct 15th-16th strike

Staff and students on strike at London Met University, 15th-16th Oct in protest against massive job cuts. Read our report here, and see other press articles here, here, here and here. See more photos by clicking on the link 'Read the full post with comments', and more photos here and here. Also, watch videos of the rally held on Thursday here, and on Friday here and here. Guy Smallman's Photos can be seen here.

More to come. Please send us your reports, videos or photos of the strike to:

Read the full post with comments!

Videos: rally, Thursday 15th Oct

Tina, London Met Student
See more speeches at rally by clicking on the link 'Read the full post with comments' (below).

Max Watson, London Met UNISON

Kay Dudman, London Met UCU

Megan Redmond, London Met UNISON

Claire Locke, London Met Student

Cliff Snaith, London Met UCU (pt1)

Cliff Snaith, London Met UCU (pt2)

Cliff Snaith, London Met UCU (pt3)

Alisdair Ross, London Met UCU

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London Met staff walk out

Staff at London Metropolitan University in Tower Hamlets have begun two days of strike action against cuts and redundancies.

The action follows a strike in July and other protests by staff and students against the cutbacks ordered by the university’s authorities

Lecturers, represented by the Universities and Colleges Union, and non-teaching staff, represented by Unison are on strike until Friday 16th October.

The ongoing campaign by staff and students at LMU began last year when university management announced 550 redundancies and closures. The cuts are being made to pay for a £38 million “claw back” of funds by the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE). The “claw back” was announced by the funding council last December when it discovered misreporting by LMU of student drop outs had led to a £58 million overpayment.

Read the full article here (East London Lines).

Read the full post with comments!


OVER 100 staff, students and lecturers rallied outside London Met University yesterday lunchtime, to vow to halt the wave of hundreds of sackings taking place at the institution.

Students eagerly took leaflets from pickets and joined the rally.

Two sites of the university were shut down by the support of staff and students for the 48-hour strike by Unison and the UCU that concludes today.

Naomi Bicharri, a business student, told News Line: ‘I don’t agree with the cuts and I feel all students should have equal opportunities to go to university.

Richard Cryan, a Unison library assistant, said: ‘We’re striking to save jobs and save the university.

‘What we’re hearing is the sector as a whole is facing cuts. But it is not the time to be cutting education.

Read the rest here (WRP).

Read the full post with comments!

VIDEO: Joint UNISON / UCU London Met Rally (2)

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VIDEO: Joint UNISON / UCU rally at London Met (1)

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Friday, 16 October 2009

More photos Oct 15th Strike

See more photos, click on 'see full post...' below.

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Photos from Strike 15th Oct

See more photos - click on 'see full post with comments' below.

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Thursday, 15 October 2009

First day of London Metropolitan University strike (Press coverage)

Coverage of today's strike:

University jobs cut protes
Islington Gazette

University lecturers walk out today over job cuts

East London Advertiser

First day of London Metropolitan University strike
Socialist Worker
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Strong support for today's joint union strike

Staff and students rallied today outside Tower building, after a very successful day of strike action this morning.

All buildings had active picket lines and were respected by the vast majority of members. Ladbroke House was closed down completely after students walked out en mass and joined staff on the picket lines. A spokeswoman for the Ladbroke students reflected the anger felt by many students at the attack on their education that they are already beginning to experience as the inevitable result of staff cuts already enacted and is only likely to get much worse with the further cut backs proposed by management.

Jewry St was also closed following a fire alarm* (see correction at end). The few not on strike were evacuated by agency staff who are inadequately trained in health and safety, as all appropriately trained unionised full time staff were on strike.

Students who were turned away due to cancelled lessons were very receptive and appreciative of our argument that we are striking not to disrupt their lessons but to save our university from terminal decline. Thousands of leaflets were gratefully received by students and many of those students then joined our picket lines.

Students were angry to hear how much the Vice Chancellor earns – nearly £300,000 – and when they heard that Brian Roper was still being paid the same - despite not being on university premises since February, they were outraged. As one of the student speakers at our rally said - "We could keep the nursery open by simply getting rid of both of them".

We realise some of our members had their doubts about taking action today but after this morning most of those who had expressed uncertainties decided that they’d much rather respect the picket line than break the strike.

Thanks for all those members who came in to help out on the pickets – and to our students too. Hundreds signed our petition and many gladly took more leaflets to hand out to their classmates.

We’ll be rallying again at the Tower building at lunchtime tomorrow, 1-2pm.

We invite all staff to join us tomorrow, it’s not too late to change your mind and do the right thing. Today was a major success - let's make tomorrow even better.

Pickets start at 8 at every building. If you stayed at home today, come into join us. Pass this on to non-members and encourage them to join UNISON or UCU – it’s not too late. Today, both Unison and UCU recruited a number of new members on the picket lines!

United we stand, divided we fall. Today we stand shoulder to shoulder - staff and students united, and we stand up tall.
* We've been asked to correct what someone saw as inaccurate reporting:

"The building was NOT "closed following a fire alarm". The building was evacuated and the fire brigade called as per standard procedures. Occupants were allowed back in once the brigade gave the all clear and the fire alarm reset. If anything the fire alarm demonstrated that the agency staff on site were adequately trained and acted properly with respect to occupants safety. There was a delay in re-opening the building as the agency staff were not familiar with the re-setting procedure but this is not a safety issue."

It should be noted that the strikers were not responsible for this fire alarm being set off, as of course we were all outside the buildings...

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Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Statement of support from Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary

(Click on image for a larger view)
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More publicity for London Met dispute

Follow the links below for a series of articles on the proposed cuts at LMU, and support for the union action.

Times Higher Education...

New Statesman...

Jon Rogers union blog...

Socialist Unity...
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Sunday, 11 October 2009

Support our strike, join the pickets Thurs 15th and Fri 16th

Come and support the strike by joining/ visiting our pickets on Thurs 15th and Fri 16th: UCU and UNISON members will be at all the university building entrances from 8.00am. You can see maps to all the university buildings here:

There are two campuses, North and City.

The key buildings to picket are:


The main building is Calcutta House

Next door is The Women's Library:

There is another key entrance to Calcutta House, around the corner, on Gouslton St:

Just opposite the Whitechapel Art Gallery is Central House;

And further around the corner is Commercial Road;

Slightly separate from the grouped buildings above is the Moorgate Building:

North Campus:

The main building in the North is The Tower on Holloway Rd here:

Just across the road is Stapleton House:

Around the corner is the Learning Centre:

A little further down the street is the main admin block, 'the Rocket' (where the senior exec group mostly work):

Also in the North, but nearer to Highbury tube, is Ladbroke House:

Your support will be appreciated - our fight is your fight! Come and show your solidarity. If you can't come to any pickets, send a message of solidarity by emailing us or leaving comments here.

We will soon announce further plans for a rally and a social.

Read the full post with comments!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Staff and students - strike against job cuts and closures!

Staff in UNISON and UCU are on strike on Thurs 15th and Fri 16th October against savage job cuts this year.

The chaotic scenes during enrolment say it all: we lost over 350 jobs last year and you can already see the difference. Management want to make another 100 - 200 redundancies and won't tell us exactly who is for the chop.

They even want to shut down the last of three nurseries without considering any options.

Staff and students at London Met are sick of being told it is us who have to pay the price for their incompetence. (Photo: 'px' - indymedia)

There was an independent inquiry into the financial crisis at London Met. Why don't the Governors wait until that reports before they announce any further job cuts?

Why not negotiate properly with the unions?

UCU and UNISON have been trying to negotiate: we even offered to go to ACAS to try to resolve this. Management won't budge.

This is our last resort: to strike during teaching. We realise this can cause massive disruption to classes. We apologise to students and other staff but feel if cuts of this scale continue the damage will be much worse.

These are our immediate demands: Join us on strike - support our campaign to Save London Met!

Our demands:

  • Withdraw the compulsory redundancies to nursery staff.
  • Voluntary severance for those made compulsory redundant.
  • Moratorium on redundancy announcements until 28 days after the publication of the Melville Report.
  • Any further redundancies announced after that to be subjected to new s.188 notice and formal and meaningful negotiations with the trade unions.

Read the full post with comments!

Monday, 28 September 2009


Lobby the Board Of Governors Wed 30th September

Tower Building, Holloway Road, 5.00 p.m.

Students and staff, members of both UCU and UNISON, have fought for months to stop the devastation of our university. As a result the threatened job cuts have been significantly reduced, Sir David Melville is conducting an inquiry into the reasons for the financial crisis that led to this situation in the first place, and we have stopped the threatened outsourcing of IT and media services.

But significant numbers of staff still face compulsory redundancy and whoever is to blame for the financial mess management have made it clear that they want more job cuts next year. The unions have made it clear to management that as long as compulsory redundancies are threatened we will continue to do all we can to stop them.

Last week UCU’s General Secretary, Sally Hunt, told UCU members that if we stop compulsory redundancies now it will be more difficult for management to push them through in future so “now is the time to keep up the pressure”.

Meetings of both unions have voted that if management don’t withdraw the compulsory redundancies we will step up the action at the beginning of the new semester.

We also are demanding that the Governors agree to cut the £2m in bonuses paid to London Met’s senior management each year and use the money to save jobs.

  • No compulsory redundancies
  • No fat cat bonuses

Join the lobby on Wed

30th Sept – keep up the pressure!

The 4 week all-out strike at Tower Hamlets College has ended in victory. The strike has stopped all compulsory redundancies and prevented cuts to courses. London Met staff were amongst thousands who supported the strikers by visiting picket lines and donating to the strike fund. Tower Hamlets is a brilliant example of how to fight against cuts and redundancies. Speaker from Tower Hamlets invited to lobby.
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Tuesday, 22 September 2009

George rallies to the lecturers’ jobs cause

University board member a target for union action

GEORGE Galloway is expected to rally lecturers and staff of London Metropolitan University outside the offices of one of its board members today (Friday).

The Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow has been invited to join a demonstration outside the Kingston Smith city accountancy firm in Devonshire House, Goswell Road, Angel, from 1pm.

See here for demo details.

See here for rest of article.
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Friday, 18 September 2009

‘FIGHT FOR JOBS!’ – London Met delegate tells Congress

‘FIGHT FOR JOBS!’ – London Met delegate tells Congress
Delegates applauding the demonstration by Vestas sacked workers who were demanding that the plant be nationalised
THE TUC Congress in Liverpool was brought alive yesterday by a passionate call to fight for jobs with occupations by Mark Campbell of the University and College Union at London Metropolitan University.

He was speaking in support of Composite 3: Jobs, the Recession and Redundancy Rights.

Campbell said: ‘Redundancies should not be the cheap option for employers, yet for many employers they are often the first and only option they consider.

‘And it’s not just compulsory redundancies – we also have massive numbers of non-voluntary “voluntary redundancies’’, which are often reluctantly accepted when workers are threatened with the likely alternative of the paucity of statutory redundancy pay.

‘If that is not bad enough, some employers including my own, London Metropolitan University, have gone one step worse.

‘Staff are targeted and selected for compulsory redundancy (often on the flimsiest and most unreasonable grounds) and are then offered their actual weekly wage instead of the £350 a week statutory pay.

‘But only on the basis that they sign “gagging’’ orders and accept “compromise agreements’’.
‘This needs to be halted now.

‘We need actual weekly pay to be the minimum in terms of the calculation for statutory redundancy pay, and it needs to be available from day one of employment, not only after two years’ work.

‘However, UCU believes the strongest and most important statement of the motion is that noted by the TSSA amendment: “Congress congratulates those workers fighting to keep their jobs, including those taking action such as the occupation of workplaces in order to raise awareness and stop closures.

‘I would therefore like to use the remainder of my speech to offer my union’s heartfelt thanks to the following: the Vestas occupiers, the Thomas Cook occupiers, the Visteon occupiers, the Waterford Crystal occupiers and especially to our own members, now on their 14th day of all-out strike action, at Tower Hamlets College in east London.

‘All of these workers have taken the brave decision to stand up not just for themselves but for their communities.

‘So yes, we need to support this motion.

‘We need to make it harder and more expensive to make workers redundant.

‘But we need to take inspiration from those who have begun the fightback to save jobs.

‘We need to get off our knees as a trade union movement and match the resolve of those occupiers and strikers who have given a real lead to our movement.

‘And if Gordon Brown feels comfortable with using the “C’’ word, isn’t it time we felt comfortable using the “S’’ word and the “O’’ word.

‘Strike and occupy – save jobs, defend our community,’ he concluded to enthusiastic applause.

The motion was moved by Unite Joint General Secretary Tony Woodley.

He declared: ‘Spivs and speculators have made millions of pounds taking our economy over the edge, sacking bank workers and factory workers but putting little back into the economy to protect jobs.’

He demanded the government ‘nationalise the banks completely, not part nationalisation but take them over.’

He did not however demand the nationalisation of the Ellesmere Port and Luton GM factories where thousands of jobs are under threat, as well as the tens of thousands of jobs that depend on them.

Woodley called for short-time working for when the recovery begins.

He claimed: ‘The free market is in the past. Start intervention, public intervention.’

He concluded: ‘That’s the sort of Labour we are all proud of. Listen Gordon, before it’s too late.’

Earlier, Congress voted for Composite 1: Posted Workers Directive.

This was supported by the General Council with reservations concerning the Lisbon treaty.

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Thursday, 17 September 2009

Battle continues at London Met

Workers at London Metropolitan University look set to take further strike action in their fight against job cuts.

The cuts would slash up to a quarter of the posts at the London Met – putting the future of the university in jeopardy. Lecturers in the UCU union informally supported further strikes at union meetings last week and are due to meet on Wednesday of next week to decide on future action.

© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.

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Monday, 14 September 2009

Lobby Michael Snyder - LMU Board of Governors

Speakers: George Galloway MP (invited), Tower Hamlets College striker, Sasha Callaghan (Former President UCU).

Friday 18 September 1 pm Outside Kingston Smith, Devonshire House, 60 Goswell Rd., London EC1M 7AD. (nearest tube Barbican).

Michael Snyder is the LMU Board Member who told us in 2007 that ‘City Fat-Cats Deserve Their Pay and Our Respect’. And now he’s one of those telling staff and students at London Met that we should pay for the mess that’s been made of the university finances with our jobs.

Join the lobby outside Michael Snyder’s office and let him know that we won’t go without a fight and that it’s the board and their friends in senior management who should pay for the mess they’ve landed the university in.

Organised by LMU UCU and UNISON Branches.
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Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Official "grey-listing" of London Met announced

Email from Sally Hunt, General Secretary of UCU, to all members 01/09/09

Dear colleague,
As you will know, I seldom email you directly and only do so when I feel that a situation is extremely important to our union. As such, it is with regret that I write to you today to formally notify you of the greylisting of London Metropolitan University (LMU). Those of you who have been in the union since its inception or were in one of the predecessor unions, AUT or NATFHE, will be aware that this is the most serious sanction available to us and this will be the first time in UCU's history when greylisting has been formally implemented rather then threatened (such as at Keele University and Nottingham Trent University).

As of today, 1 September, UCU will be asking colleagues across the country, other trade unions, labour movement organisations and the international academic community to support our members at the university in any way possible, including:

* non-attendance, speaking at or organising academic or other conferences at LMU
* not applying for any advertised jobs at LMU
* not giving lectures at LMU
* not accepting positions as visiting professors or researchers at LMU
* not writing for any academic journal which is edited at or produced by LMU
* not taking up new contracts as external examiners for taught courses.

Read the full email here...
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Campaign to "grey-list" London Met continues

from the East London Advertiser, 31/08/09

A NATIONWIDE campaign to boycott London’s biggest university over the threatened 550 redundancies is being launched this morning (Monday).

The UCU lecturers’ union is declaring the London Metropolitan the first university to be ‘grey listed’ in the embittered nine-month dispute.

The beleaguered institution was told by the union in June that it would become the first to suffer an academic boycott following deadlocked negotiations.

Resolving the matter before tomorrow (Tuesday) looks unlikely, the union said today, as the dispute at Aldgate, Whitechapel, Moorgate and the main campus in Holloway drags on into its ninth month.

So it is pushing ahead with its ‘grey listing’, asking colleagues across the country and the international academic community to support the boycott.

The London Met, which has 34,000 students, was hit by a £15 million reduction in its yearly Whitehall grant at the end of last year, while repayment demands totalling £36m were made by the Government’s Higher Education Funding Council. It followed incorrect submissions of student completion records by the university.

Read the full story here...
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Saturday, 29 August 2009

Indefinite strike action goes ahead at Tower Hamlets College

UCU, 26 August 2009

Tower Hamlets College faces indefinite strike action from tomorrow (Thursday 27 August) after eleventh hour talks failed to resolve the ongoing row over job losses and cuts to English language courses.

Despite attempts from the UCU to negotiate with the college, the union said today that its members at Tower Hamlets have been left with no alternative but to walk out indefinitely.

Read the rest of the press release here.
And read more reports here, here and here.

London Met Uni UNISON members went to join the pickets on the first day of the strike to show their solidarity and pledged to support the strike every way they can: "Our fight is your fight - an injury to one is an injury to all."

What you can do
Submitted by AWL on 27 August, 2009 - 12:12.

What you can do to help:

1. Picket lines all day
Visit picket lines from August the 27th
Poplar E14 0AF
Arbour Square E1 0PT
Bethnal GreenE2 6AB

2. Take a collection at work:
Strike fund: c/o Keith Priddle UCU THC Treasurer
Tower Hamlets College, Arbour Square Site, E1 0PT.
Sort code 089299
Account number 65252262

3. Send urgent messages of support to:
Richard McEwan (Branch Sec) 07532364638
Alison Lord (Branch Chair) 07805819605
John Budis (Branch Sec) 07967893664

4. Write to the Principal

5. Public support meeting:
Invited local MPS, Councillors, Speakers invites to ESOL students, UCU, NUT, FBU, UNISON, CWU, PCS. Speakers tbc.
5pm - September 3rd
St. Mathias Church
off Poplar High Street.
Nearest Tube Poplar DLR.
Speakers tbc.

6. Sign:

7. For up to date info, video and photos join the Facebook group: ‘Tower Hamlets - Stop the Cuts!’

8. Write to your MP:

9. Demand Jobs and Educations for All. Join UCU sponsored lobby of the Labour party conference September 27th in Brighton.
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Wednesday, 19 August 2009

HEFCE release documents relating to London Met

Due to public demand, prompted by the unprecedented scale of the financial clawback, HEFCE have released a number of documents relating to the funding issue at London Met.

View all the documents here...
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Thursday, 6 August 2009

Management of London Met acted 'blindly', audit says

Times Higher Education Supplement, 6 August 2009
By Melanie Newman

London Metropolitan University was "operating blindly", with key decisions being made by managers and governors in the absence of solid facts, according to an independent auditor's report into incorrect student-data returns at the institution.

The auditor's conclusions are disputed by London Met, which says its senior management team was fully aware of the facts and denies any suggestion of recklessness.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England commissioned BDO Stoy Hayward last year to review London Met's approach to student records after inaccuracies were discovered in its student-data completions.

The institution is repaying £36.5 million after Hefce found that its student non-completion rate was 30 per cent, rather than the 3 per cent or so it had reported. A further £15 million has also been held back from London Met's recurrent teaching funding.

The university admitted including in its data returns students who did not fit Hefce's definition of completion, but said that it had "deliberately and consciously applied a certain interpretation of (Hefce's) rules on (reporting student non-completions), which it had signalled to Hefce in advance of its application and had been encouraged by Hefce to pursue".

Hefce said it never approved the university's interpretation of its non-completion rules, and added that it raised problems with completions data during two audits.

BDO was asked to audit the university's data returns for 2006-07 and to assess the extent to which the findings of two Hefce audits for 2003-04 and 2004-05 had been acted upon. The BDO auditors, who reported in January this year, found that the university's processes for compiling, reviewing and authorising data returns were ineffective....

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Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The Guardian raises questions over equality impact of LMU's job cuts

from The Guardian, 04/08/09

Are universities failing to assess the impact of job cuts on equality and on the gender and ethnic balance of staff?

Universities across the country are planning drastic job cuts and as many as 6,000 university staff face the axe. The umbrella group Universities UK (UUK) insists that institutions "have a good track record in handling staffing changes in an open and fair way". But union officials claim that half of those planning job cuts are breaking the law by failing to assess what impact the decisions will have.

Three laws – the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 and the Equality Act 2006 – require universities to assess the impact of their current and proposed policies on race, disability and gender equality. But many still struggle to meet their obligations, with institutions often lacking the systems in place to do impact assessment at the initiation of a policy, rather than after it is impossible to change it.

"The public sector duties require institutions to promote equality," explains Rachel Curley, head of equality at the University and College Union (UCU). "The specific duty to assess the impact of policies and procedures is an important instrument in achieving this objective. The English funding council, Hefce, gave universities guidance on the issue in 2004, so it is disturbing that so many institutions are still not compliant."

According to UCU, of the 43 institutions which have indicated that jobs will be lost, at least 21 have failed to produce adequate impact assessments.

One institution raising serious concerns is London Metropolitan University (LMU), which plans to make 550 voluntary and compulsory redundancies.

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Monday, 3 August 2009

Full scale of university nursery cuts exposed by Unison

By Catherine Gaunt, Nursery World, 29 July 2009

UP TO 20 nurseries on university and college campuses are facing closure, the union Unison has revealed.

The figures come from preliminary findings of a survey of Unison members, which have revealed the high number and pace of the nursery closures.
The union said universities and colleges are facing funding cuts of up to £400m and that nurseries are bearing the brunt of a cost-cutting exercise.
It warned that nurseries are essential amenities and that their closure will mean that many parents will not be able to continue their studies at further and higher education level, which goes against the Government's 14-19 agenda to open up access to young people, especially young parents.

Cuts will also have an impact on retraining and skills development during the recession. Many of those further and higher education institutions that have earmarked their nurseries for closure offer childcare qualifications.

They include London Metropolitan University, Sheffield University, the University of the West of England, Goldsmiths at the University of London, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, Bridgwater College, Somerset, Ebbw Vale College, Middlesbrough College, Manchester College and Grantham College.

Last week Nursery World revealed that Unison and nursery staff at the University of Westminster are campaigning to save the university's two nurseries, which are due to close in September (News, 23 July). The union has warned of a crisis for college and university nurseries and has launched a joint campaign with the National Union of Students and the teaching unions to fight the closures.

The 'Meet the Parents' report by the NUS highlighted the shortage of campus childcare, which was often oversubscribed (News, 30 April). Unison has written to ministers and the higher and further education funding councils and will shortly meet David Lammy, Minister for Higher Education.

Ben Thomas, Unison national officer for children's services, said, 'Because teaching and learning have to be prioritised, essential but non-core services such as nurseries are suffering. This is a tragedy for children and nursery staff. The nurseries provide a vital service for students. Workplace nurseries are a key tool in allowing colleges to meet government targets on increasing participation in education and on re-skilling the workforce at a time of recession. Closing nurseries may provide a short-term cost saving but will have a long-term impact on the ability of these institutions to attract and retain the students they are meant to be targeting.'

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MP attacks government over uni jobs

from The Islington Tribune

ISLINGTON North MP Jeremy Corbyn has berated the government in the Commons over the planned redundancies of 500 staff at the London Metropolitan University in Holloway.

Speaking in a debate on education cuts, Mr Corbyn described it as “unacceptable” that rather than discuss the subject, Ministers keep referring him back to the national funding council. Mr Corbyn said: “I have raised this matter in an Adjournment debate, in parliamentary questions, in early day motions and in correspondence with the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and with the relevant Ministers of State. They have all referred me back to the Higher Education Funding Council for England. How very convenient.”

He called on ministers to intervene to prevent jobs from being lost and to protect courses and student numbers. The university is being asked to pay back £39.5million, meaning more than 5,000 student places could be lost as well as jobs. “The situation is grim,” Mr Corbyn said. “The university faces the possibility of the loss of more than 500 jobs, the closure of a number of courses and a reduction in student numbers in the long-term. It cannot be the government’s intention that so many people should lose the opportunity of going to university or that so many experienced, effective teachers should lose their jobs.”

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Tuesday, 28 July 2009

More publicity for London Met strike

from Naomi Byron, Socialist Party

Support and admin staff, technicians and lecturers organised a solid strike at London Met University on 14 July against massive cuts. Dozens of people from all departments are threatened with losing their jobs by the end of this month.

A library worker said: "Everyone in the library is on strike except top management. The cuts are a disaster for students - many of their courses will no longer be available, even ones they've already signed up for. There is talk of reducing the number of libraries to two, but this will lead to job cuts and a much poorer service for students. Most of the buildings students study in have a library, but if this happens they will have to go to Holloway Road or Calcutta House."

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'Greylisting' threat hangs over university

from The Islington Tribune, 24/07/09

LECTURERS and staff at crisis torn London Metropolitan University (LMU) are threatening management with the ultimate sanction available to them: “greylisting”.

The move, rarely instigated in this country, amounts to a total academic boycott of the Holloway Road university. Unless university bosses scrap plans to axe a quarter of its workforce in July 2010, they will be shamed as operating a “rogue institution” that lecturers should not work for.The University College Union (UCU) has agreed to “greylist” London Met – which has proposed making 550 full time job cuts – from September 1.Barry Jones, UCU’s regional official for London, said: “Grey listing is an academic boycott of an institution. We will be asking people to not get involved on any basis with the university. This includes conferences, applying for jobs, external examinations – anything really.”He added: “It will be hugely embarrassing for the university if we go ahead in September. We are doing this to put pressure on management to stop the redundancies.”

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Friday, 17 July 2009

Campaign Social // Fundraising party // 23rd July

Click on the thumbnail image above for larger, full page view of this flier.

Please forward to your contacts and friends, and confirm attendance by emailing:
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UCU reaction to Prime Minister’s promise of extra university places


date: Thursday 16 July 2009

The University and College Union (UCU) today (Thursday) said that it
welcomed the promise from the Prime Minister that there would be extra
student places at universities this year. However, the union warned that
extra places alone could provide more challenges for the beleaguered
higher education sector.

The government originally said it would be capping student numbers this
summer but, with applications to university at a record high, it has now
reversed its decision. The news comes on the back of a report from UCU
that revealed job cuts are being threatened across higher education. The
union warned today that just cramming more students into universities
whilst getting rid of staff would result in more trying to be delivered
for less, with a damaging impact on the quality of UK higher education.

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Thursday, 16 July 2009

Right to Work Conference - Cliff Snaith - London Met UCU

Speech at the Right to Work Conference by Cliff Snaith, London Met UCU, in June. If more Youtube clips are available let us know.
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The countdown to greylisting begins

UCU will be instigating the greylisting of London Metropolitan University on 1 September 2009.... the clock is ticking.
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Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Union strike virtually shuts down London Met

London Met University came to a virtual halt yesterday as hundreds of workers went on a UCU/ UNISON co-ordinated strike in protest at continued job cuts and outsourcing.

Workers and students honoured the picket lines at every building in both campuses and a lively rally was then held at the Central House building.

Following the rally a delegation then went to hand in a letter and petition to Peter Mandelson urging him to step in and save London Met University.

Speakers lined up to condemn the government, HEFCE and the local management for their failure to keep London Met’s finances in order – and trying to make staff and students pay the price.

See more photos from 'px' on indymedia here.

The pickets were solid throughout the day – and both unions recruited several new members on the picket lines. Postal workers in the Communication Workers Union (CWU) refused to deliver post to any London Met buildings, honouring the picket lines, and fellow trade unionists from UNISON and UCU branches from SOAS, Tower Hamlets, Birkbeck, Royal Free Hospital, City & Islington College UCU, Barnet Unison and Carshalton college, among others, came to show their solidarity on the day.

Despite management’s attempts to keep it open, the Women’s Library had to close completely after a successful picket and recruitment of new member on the day shut the building.
Despite a few strike-breakers – mainly contracted staff – pickets reported many non-union members also stayed at home, taking annual leave or calling in sick. Students coming in to use the libraries also turned away to show support for the strike’s cause.

The level of solidarity on display reflects the anger at the senior management of the university. Max Watson, of London Met UNISON Branch, introduced the speakers at the rally of over a hundred pickets and supporters. Voicing the anger of staff at London Met, he said:
“How dare they talk about cuts, when they waste millions every year on useless consultancies? How dare they talk about cuts when not a single senior manager or HR director is being made redundant? How dare they talk about cuts when they're paying £276,000 a year for the ex-Vice Chancellor, Brian Roper just to keep quiet. Is that value for money? It’s money for Old Roper, that’s what it is.”

Echoing the widespread feelings of the need for more action, Mark Campbell, Chair of London Met UCU branch, warned management that if they don't rescind the compulsory redundancies that are currently being threatened, then there'll be 'total war' in the new term (watch his speech in full here). Ben Whitham, London Met UNISON communications officer, also said: “We’ll keep taking strike action until the cuts are put on hold and the unions get some input into the running of the university.”

Sasha Callaghan, of UCU, passionately spoke against cuts in education at a time of recession. Cuts at London Met will mean cuts for all workers and the poor of London’s East End.
Jon Richards, national Higher Education UNISON official, also spoke in support of the strike action on behalf of Dave Prentis, General Secretary. He highlighted the irony of a recent book that was published by researchers at London Met on the detrimental effects of restructuring, following a seminar he attended, titled: ‘Restructuring is bad for workers health’.

Richards said: “If only the management of this university had read their own researchers’ work – they’ve not implemented a fraction of the recommendations in this book.”

The BBC News and some others covered our strike (see here, here and here for example). And as usual, plenty of solidarity messages came through (see here), including from ‘Feminist Fightback’ – a member who had come to use the Women's Library was happy to find it closed and to hear that her sisters were all on strike.

The rally closed with chants: ‘They say cut back; we say fight back!’, which continued at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. Peter Mandelson’s private secretary came to receive the letter and petition (watch video here).

A new letter was also handed out to all at the demo to send to their MPs and the strikers vowed to return in the new term with further action: “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

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Demo outside BIS - 14th July 2009

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Strike at uni over threat to axe staff (Islington Gazette)

A UNIVERISTY was brought to a standstill on Tuesday as staff went on strike in an ongoing battle to save more than 500 jobs.

London Metropolitan University (LMU), which has a campus in Holloway Road, Holloway, has been hit with repayment demands totalling more than £36million by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) after the university inaccurately reported the number of students taking courses.

Mark Campbell, who works in the computing facility of the Holloway Road campus, said: "They want to cut 550 full-time posts or the equivalent which could actually be up to 800 jobs cut in the next year. That's more than a quarter of the university staff. It will be the students who ultimately suffer. We want a full independent inquiry into how we got into this mess."

A delegation also handed over a petition with more than 3,500 signatures to the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills demanding the public inquiry and a halt to the job cuts.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: "The situation at London Met is a nightmare and members don't want be taking industrial action, however, it is not acceptable for management to punish the staff for their mistakes."

Read the rest here.
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Petition handed over to Peter Mandelson at Department for Business Innovation and Skills

(tilt your head to begin with!)
More reports, videos & photos coming soon...
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London Met University Strike (John's Labour Blog)

Posted by John Gray - John's Labour Blog

Today I went to the picket line in Whitechapel to support UNISON members of London Metropolitan University and their UCU lecturer colleagues who are on strike today over the threat of hundreds of compulsory redundancies.

(Picture of UNISON branch secretary Alan Pike, a super picket and UNISON regional organiser, Harry Lister, behind a banner asking the Minister, David Lammy, for the enquiry he promised into London Met finances)

The sad sorry tale of utter financial incompetency and impropriety (or even worse) by some senior managers in the past has resulted in the funding council HEFCE trying to reclaim millions of pounds of grants. The arguments actually put forward by the University to justify sacking people and “outsource” services to save money seem pretty desperate and frankly daft.

It makes you wonder (despair?) about the governance arrangements for the University. Who is responsible for the mess? Why was this allowed to happen? What is being done to make sure this will never, ever, happen again? (Or at another university or college)?

As far as I can see there is still open warfare between London Mets management and the Funding Council. How is this going to help things now and in the future? They are both responsible for this chaos and should deal with the problem without sacking loads of staff or getting rid of students.

There is a wider question about the Boards of governors, trustees, commissioners or whatever, of our traditional British public institutions. Do the so-called “great and the good” of our society who tend to populate these boards have the necessary skills, life experiences and even gumption to challenge the day to day management and give proper strategic guidance and oversight?

On the present day evidence - I think not.

It is a pity that some minor management stooges have tried to wreak the day by trying to score sectarian points and attacking the union. But I suppose that like rubbish management this is something we just have to deal with.

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