Contract staff win appeal on status

March 10, 1995

The Association of University Teachers is claiming an Employment Appeal Tribunal decision as an important victory in its campaign to improve the status of thousands of contract staff.

Glasgow University has lost its appeal against an industrial tribunal decision that it unfairly dismissed two staff on fixed-term contracts because of its lack of consultation over alternative posts once their contracts ended.

James McNally and Anni Donaldson were employed as enterprise staff development officers under the five-year Government-funded Enterprise in Higher Education scheme.

Glasgow argued that it had no obligation to offer continuing work to externally funded staff whose funding had ceased. Some 400 of its 5,000 staff were on externally funded, fixed-term contracts.

The appeals tribunal said the industrial tribunal had not failed to appreciate the difficulties. It had found that consultation might have led to Mr McNally and Ms Donaldson taking up vacant posts. Given the tribunal's emphatic finding that no consultation at all had taken place, its decision could not be said to have no basis.

Glasgow University said the decision could have far reaching implications throughout the higher education system.

David Bleiman, AUT assistant general secretary, said: "Universities employ thousands of highly qualified professional staff on fixed-term contracts. For too long they have been treated as second class citizens. This decision is a milestone in our campaign to ensure that universities take reasonable steps to consult the union and the individuals concerned with a view to retaining their skills if possible or, if redundancy cannot be avoided, assisting them in other ways such as retraining and career counselling."

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