Wednesday, 22 April 2009

UCU Ballot for Industrial Action

UCU Members,
By now you will all have received your ballot form (at home probably but in the office for a few); if you have not, please contact UCU London Met urgently. Make sure that you post it back as soon as possible because this may be the most important vote London Met has ever faced. What is at stake is a fundamental clash between competing visions for the future of the university.

Management have clearly lost faith in the university’s mission. Instead, they see a future of falling student numbers, declining standards and an ever-increasing culture of control as the university struggles for survival. Over-stretched staff will be remote from students, managing on-line delivery or lecturing to vast halls with a focus on ‘fact’- driven training and achievement of targets. In effect, it will offer a twenty-first century version of Victorian values: rote teaching and rote learning. What is more, it won’t work. This means that there will almost certainly have to be more cuts in the future; even those departments that appear to have got off relatively lightly now may suffer significantly next year or the one after. Some could be hit twice, of course. Computing offers a salutary example here.

Our vision is different. We (UCU, UNISON and the staff generally) remain committed to a university that has at its heart the promotion of intellectual discovery, the stimulation of critical thought and the development of individual talent. We want to see the university successful again. However, this requires recognition that staff members are not enemies to be controlled but partners to be consulted. It requires a concerted effort to develop a recovery plan that encapsulates humane and academic approaches to the crisis. Above all, it requires an understanding of how learning occurs.

This is the choice that faces us now. Because it involves such a fundamental clash of views, the outcome affects us all. Everyone at London Met has a vested interest in our continuing to stand up for our principles. Those of us who will be dismissed if we do not keep fighting need us to combat the brutal and ill-conceived cuts urgently. Those who stay need us to fight in order to have a university to work at. They need us to resist management visions of ever-increasing workloads and micro-management if they are to survive in the new order. Students need us to fight to maintain standards and academic integrity. Those who are wondering about applying for voluntary redundancy need us to fight so that their choice is a genuine one, not a coerced decision.

For this reason, each vote is vital. Please make sure that you vote and encourage your colleagues to do so as soon as possible.

A vote for industrial action strengthens our hand in negotiations with management. A ‘yes’ vote demonstrates our belief in the second approach and our rejection of confrontational managerialism. It is therefore vital that we all have our say in the future of London Met. Management have removed our right to participate in the formal structures of the university: make sure our voice is heard now!

London Met UCU Co-ordinating Committee

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