A challenge by the University and College Union to the implementation of new staff contracts at Edge Hill University has been rejected by an employment tribunal.
About 70 Edge Hill staff, backed by the UCU, lodged unfair dismissal claims with an employment tribunal after the university introduced a new contract in 2006. Three test-case claims were heard in September 2008 and have now been dismissed.
The cases argued that the university had illegally imposed a local version of the agreed national contract, implemented after the 2004 Framework Agreement reforms to pay structures. They said that this had in effect terminated their employment.
Edge Hill implemented the contract after a staff ballot indicated "overwhelming" support for it, and after concluding that it could not secure a collective agreement over the plans with the UCU in time for the August 2006 pay run.
Of the three claimants, one received a salary increase and a future pay increment "that he had otherwise no reason to expect", the tribunal said.
It found that "he was in a measurably and significantly better position ... than before", which did not amount to the termination of his contract.
Another claimant was transferred to a deal that placed a bar on her pay progression, which hitherto had been automatic. But this was insufficient to demonstrate that the new contract was fundamentally different from the old one, the tribunal said.
The detriment suffered by the third claimant was likewise not sufficient to amount to the termination of his contract, the tribunal said.
It concluded that Edge Hill had acted reasonably and dismissed the claims. The UCU is appealing the decision. The university and the union declined to comment.