London Met wins bid to halt strike

October 1, 2004

London Metropolitan University won a victory in its dispute with lecturers'

union Natfhe this week when it secured an injunction preventing strike action.

The injunction ruled out any industrial action based on a ballot carried out by Natfhe in June and meant the union had to cancel a strike day planned for Wednesday. The union intends to reballot.

Brian Roper, London Met's vice-chancellor, said: "This is an unusual step and certainly not one we took lightly. We were forced to take the action as Natfhe was planning to disrupt induction week, a crucial week for students."

Paul Mackney, Natfhe general secretary, said: "The university's use of anti-trade union legislation to prevent our members from exercising their legitimate right to strike is deplorable."

He said the union, which is fiercely opposed to the introduction of new contracts for staff on what was the London Guildhall campus of the merged university, would step up its academic boycott. This is not considered industrial action and, as reported in The Times Higher last week, could seriously damage the university.

In a separate move, Natfhe temporarily drew back from a dispute with national university employers after announcing that it was happy with the way 70 per cent of new universities were implementing the national framework on pay and conditions hammered out by unions and employers this year.

The framework allows for local negotiation but crucially sets out the unions' preferred method of implementation in the now famous appendix C.

Andy Pike, Natfhe national higher education official, said: "Progress is too slow. If the remaining employers don't sign up, we shall be heading for a dispute."

Nottingham University's implementation of the framework has triggered a dispute with the Association of University Teachers. The union is greylisting - effectively boycotting - the university.

Nottingham is insisting that it is complying with the framework, but the union says it is not and has described it as an "outlier".

A conference on performance-related pay was organised by the Hay Group of management consultants this week.

Mark Thompson, head of reward at the group and a key adviser to Nottingham, said: "We have 30 or 40 universities on our books, all interested in what Nottingham is doing. Other universities will have to face these issues sooner or later."

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