Anger at contract

April 9, 2004

Union leaders reacted angrily this week as up to half the staff at London Metropolitan University were given their notice and told to agree to "more prescriptive" terms and conditions or lose their jobs, writes Alison Goddard.

Lecturers' union Natfhe said the staff - all formerly employed by London Guildhall University before London Met was created through a merger with North London University in 2002 - had been told that they could retain their old contracts.

Now, all staff will be employed under the same terms, which union officials say will inhibit academic freedom and reduce former Guildhall staff to "cogs in the machine" through increased managerialism.

The news was broken to staff in a letter from Lyn Link, director of human resources. It states: "I am writing to give you notice that your employment by the university on your current contract will come to an end on August 31. You are, however, offered continued employment with effect from September 1 on the terms of the preferred contract.

"You will be deemed to have accepted the terms of the preferred contract if you continue to work after September 1, unless you write to me confirming that you do not accept the new contract. If I do hear from you to that effect, your employment will terminate on August 31."

The letter was sent the day after Brian Roper became vice-chancellor of London Met. Mr Roper was chief executive of London Met and, prior to that, vice-chancellor of North London.

Jenny Golden, Natfhe representative for London, said the new contract was "more managerial and has more signalled lines of command - and it will represent a diminution to staff of the autonomy of the academic, from having a relative amount of freedom to becoming a cog in the machine. We trust that this is not indicative of the kind of industrial relations we can expect in the future."

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