Forum for the future

May 29, 2014

I am not “anti-trade union”, as Unison claims (“HR head: union shutout ignited staff enthusiasm”, News, 22 May), I am pro-representation for all employees.

First, the University of Reading did not derecognise Unite and Unison lightly. It was driven by less than 8 per cent of eligible staff at Reading joining either union – a level that had remained stubbornly low for years, with no real signs of growth. This was a serious democratic deficit with hundreds of staff in effect disenfranchised. We gave 12 months’ notice and there was very little comment, let alone opposition, within the wider staff body.

Second, the university is not proposing cutting the number of administrative roles by 60 per cent. We are strengthening and modernising our operations. This requires a fundamental review of all our support activities, including a comprehensive data collection exercise covering the day-to-day activity of 60 per cent of our staff. Our new independent staff forum will be closely involved in this ongoing process. It is vital that all employees are consulted carefully and work with us in detail to get any changes right – not just a minority.

Sir David Bell
Vice-chancellor
University of Reading

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