Monday, 30 March 2009

Negotiations according to UCU and UNISON

Bob Aylett, interim (temporary) VC at London Met since Roper resigned, has recently emailed all staff at LMU once again attacking both unions. He included our email addresses and those of our officials, in an attempt to divide staff and turn them against us (see also our initial posting on Aylett including an article where he talks openly about his plans to cut staff way back in April 2008). His email is having the opposite effect, with more workers here joining both UCU and UNISON, and emailing us to find out what is really going on, which we're happy to do. Here is the official response (follow link to 'full post'). Please pass this link on to anyone not yet a member/ on our mailing list.

Dear all,

We are taking this opportunity to respond to some of Bob Aylett’s recent
email. In it he complains that we are holding up their rush towards
redundancies. In a sense, this is right. It is our job to subject their
proposals to scrutiny: this is precisely why the law provides for a 90-day
consultation period! We are all (management included) meant to be working
a) to avoid all redundancies b) if this proves impossible, to reduce the
number and c) to mitigate the impact of any that do take place. So far
management have been consistently obstructive by:

• Cancelling the last consultation meeting at the eleventh hour
• Refusing to take the process seriously
• Sending documentation at the last minute
• Trying to rush things past us: they seem to think that it is
reasonable to ‘discuss’ 20-odd reports in 90 minutes!
• Refusing to consider our proposals. We have put forward serious
suggestions for savings that would allow the university to avoid
redundancies; their answer is to insist on speeding up the process.
• Blocking our reasonable request that trades union representatives
be given some time away from their normal duties to fit in this extra
workload (another provision covered by the law on redundancies)

Bob Aylett knows all these points as well as we do. His email is
therefore both disingenuous and an attempt to divide staff. We have
explained why we think it dangerous to rush into a voluntary redundancy
scheme (see and are happy to do so

Our concern is to save this university from terminal decline. Cutting
staff indiscriminately, outsourcing services and making the university
less attractive to students is a recipe for disaster. especially when it
may not be necessary. According to the Chair of the Board of Governors,
following the sudden and unexplained departure of Brian Roper we can
expect a new, interim, Vice Chancellor within weeks. Now is clearly not
the time for precipitate, untested and controversial changes.

Finally, a word about the Staff Unrepresentative Council. At the time it
was established, both unions argued that it would be used to attack the
trades unions when they represent members. Management are doing just
that. A brief reminder:

• The vast majority of people who sit on it are unelected. Their
are undoubtedly good but they represent no-one
• There is no mechanism for members to report to or consult their
‘constituencies’. We have no idea what they are doing or saying.
• In the case of the redundancies, they have no access to support,
advice or legal opinion when they listen to management’s views. It is not
surprising, therefore, that they reflect those views back to management.
• We have every sympathy for people trying to contribute to the
university when management have systematically blocked all other avenues
and suppressed staff views but we believe that members of the SRC are out
of their depth and being placed in an invidious position.

We are delighted to hear from staff and have long been soliciting their
views. Since management are now so keen on this, it is regrettable that
they do not allow us to communicate with staff directly. Please could you
help the process by passing this email round as widely as possible?

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