Define 'voluntary'

May 13, 2005

I am on the hit list for redundancy at Brunel University, in common with the other co-president of the Association of University Teachers, the vice-president and a member of the local committee.

It was with mirthless laughter that I read your near hagiographical interview with Brunel's pro vice-chancellor Chris Jenks ("Fearless in the face of assault on RAE summit", May 6). Jenks claims that the majority of academic staff are "on board". A recent poll conducted by the AUT found that 94 per cent of respondents had no confidence in Brunel's senior management.

Jenks dismisses those facing the sack as "perfectly adequate teachers, but not researchers". A recent self-congratulatory journal published by the university, Leading Edge , lists recent and forthcoming publications about which the institution wishes to boast. At least one of those on the hit list - me - has research listed there.

As to voluntary redundancies, few agreements have yet been signed, as far as we are aware, and the AUT is advising members not to sign them unless fair terms are met. There must in any event be some question about how "voluntary" is a redundancy in which the "volunteer" is told that the alternative is to be made compulsorily redundant on far worse terms.

Alan Harrison
Co-president, Brunel AUT

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