Mersey motion rejects revised contract terms

UCU criticises ‘gun to head’ of 2,800 non-academic staff

June 20, 2013

One of the University of Liverpool’s largest faculties has voted against plans it says will force non-academic staff to accept new terms and conditions.

At a meeting of about 150 members of the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences’ forum, academics passed a motion condemning Liverpool’s decision to start a 45-day redundancy consultation period for about 2,800 workers.

Liverpool is seeking to “standardise terms and conditions” for its non-academic employees and wants to re-employ them on revised contracts, which unions claim will scrap extra pay for working overtime, weekends, evenings or bank holidays.

Staff have been told that they must accept the revised contracts or face three months’ notice of dismissal. Their jobs would then be offered back to them, but only on the revised terms.

At the meeting on 13 June, which was attended by around 150 people, just 12 voted against a motion criticising the controversial changes, a University and College Union circular says.

The faculty forum agrees that the plans “risk damage to the reputation of the university, to the morale of its staff and to harmonious industrial relations”.

It adds that the forum “regrets the action taken by the university to enforce changes to the terms and conditions of more than half of its staff by threatening to dismiss them”.

It calls on management to halt the mass redundancy process and to restart talks with unions in an effort to reach a compromise.

Martyn Moss, UCU North West regional official, said that the threat to dismiss employees and rehire them on inferior terms could spark strike action.

“[Liverpool] is essentially putting a gun to the head of almost 3,000 of its staff,” he said. “They are not keen on increasing their evening, bank holiday and weekend working, particularly without any guarantees of recompense, and are extremely angry.”

A spokesman for Liverpool, whose full-time undergraduate enrolments dropped by 10 per cent in 2012-13, said it wanted “to standardise terms and conditions to ensure they are applied equitably across the institution”.

It also aimed to “provide greater consistency and transparency about the circumstances in which staff become eligible for certain terms such as pay supplements or compensatory time off”.

He added that Liverpool “will not be making any compulsory redundancies as a result of the new contracts” and is “hopeful of achieving an agreement with each trade union” on the revised terms.

jack.grove@tsleducation.com

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