Lecturers at London Metropolitan University this week threatened an academic boycott of the institution amid claims that they have been told to accept new terms and conditions or lose their jobs.
More than 100 staff voted unanimously for "immediate, free and genuine negotiation" between university management and members of lecturers' union Natfhe to arrive at an agreed contract for all academic staff. Without an agreement, staff may begin to disrupt London Met's academic activities by, for example, halting external assessment and collaborative research.
Staff want managers to retract a letter sent to some academic staff that appears to threaten their jobs. The union is seeking advice on whether the letter constitutes legal notice.
The letter from Lyn Link, director of human resources, states that from August 31 lecturers will no longer be employed on the London Guildhall University contract, which predated the institution's merger with North London University that formed London Met. She says that staff could continue employment from September 1 on the university's new preferred contract.
She writes: "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."
Greg Barnett, who chairs the Natfhe coordinating committee at the university, said: "We believe that management by imposition is the antithesis of the true function and nature of a university where respect for rights, informed discussion, transparency and management by consent are essential if academic life is to prosper.
"Management by intimidation and bullying is even more unacceptable."