Letter: Undo unilateral changes

October 19, 2001

The changes management made to the staff contract at the University of Westminster were not disclosed, let alone discussed or agreed, with Natfhe before implementation ("Local row threatens national pay talks", THES , October 12). They include significant deletions of references to nationally agreed contractual clauses in our staff handbook, among other things.

The Universities and Colleges Employers Association hasconfirmed that any change to the national contract can only be by agreement, which is quite proper.

It would be very positive if vice-chancellor Geoffrey Copland offered all staff on these new, inferior academic contracts a transfer to the original contract before changes were imposed, demonstrating his understanding of the principle of "no change without agreement". This request was voiced by Natfhe and minuted as long ago as May.

Otherwise there will be a dispute that could cause problems at the national talks - which can succeed only if both sides show good faith.

Dick Leigh
Natfhe chair
University of Westminster

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