Call for global boycott of London Met

June 4, 2004

Phil Baty reports from lecturers' union Natfhe's annual conference in Blackpool

Lecturers' leaders have declared a global academic boycott of London Metropolitan University, and are set for a series of strikes after managers told 387 academics to accept new terms and conditions or lose their jobs.

The action, agreed by Natfhe's national executive, could cause severe disruption as the university prepares to offer its first fully integrated degree programmes in September.

Natfhe has agreed to ask all academic unions across the world to join its members in refusing to apply for jobs at the university, to work as external examiners and to enter into research collaborations. They will also ask other union members not to attend academic conferences there.

The union is balloting for strike action this week with a view to a series of disruptive stoppages at the start of term in autumn.

Managers at London Met - which was created by the merger of North London and Guildhall universities in 2002 - want to move former Guildhall staff on to the contracts already used for staff at the former North London university.

Natfhe said the contracts were inferior, "more prescriptive" and more likely to inhibit their academic freedom. But the union is most concerned at what it said was an attempt to impose new terms and conditions without negotiation.

Greg Barnett, Natfhe branch chair, said: "They thought the staff would just roll over in the face of their high-handed authoritarian management."

An emergency motion at the union's annual conference this week called on Natfhe "and the rest of the trade union movement to fully support the campaign to defeat this threat".

Brian Roper, the vice-chancellor, told The Times Higher : "We have over 1,000 full-time lecturing staff and 2,000 part-time academics, so only an absolute minority of staff are affected.

"This action is extremely ill-considered and does not fit at all with the spirit of reconciliation at our last meeting."

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