Actions belie words

May 26, 2016

Among the values espoused in London Metropolitan University’s strategic plan are those of openness and accountability. The fact that management have wheeled out an anonymous spokesman to deny that union officers (us) are being treated unfairly is emblematic of their failure to live the values they expect everyone else to display (“Cull of London Met UCU pair sparks ‘union victimisation’ claim”, News, 19 May).

In line with this behaviour, the Faculty of Life Sciences and Computing, where we are both based, has implemented an opaque redundancy process. The dean ignored every suggestion made during the consultation period, was unclear as to what criteria people were being assessed against, and redundancies were based on subjective comments rather than quantified criteria. He refused to release anonymised data from the first stage of a two-stage process, although a leaked spreadsheet of scores reveals errors.

Colleagues will be astonished at the anonymous spokesman’s claims of pro-union credentials. London Met may host the Trade Union Congress collection, but studies in the area were closed to new recruitment some time back. The Working Lives Research Institute, which includes the Centre for Trade Union Studies, has been decimated, its outdated website still boasting of the Women’s Library that was packed off to the London School of Economics long ago.

Management exploits anti-union legislation by offering only the statutory minimum consultation period for redundancies and statutory minimum compulsory redundancy pay. Staff do have the option of “volunteering” for enhanced (double) redundancy pay, as long as they sign the “settlement agreement” whereby they agree to never utter “any derogatory or critical or disparaging remarks, comments or statements (whether orally or in writing) about the University, its officers, employees and/or ex-employees”, or to even acknowledge that such an agreement exists.

University management should stop spinning and start negotiating.

Mark Campbell, London Metropolitan University UCU (chair)
David Hardman, London Metropolitan University UCU (secretary/health and safety officer)

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