Natfhe accuses university of developing 'autocratic style'

September 22, 2000

Industrial relations look close to collapse at Sheffield Hallam University.

Lecturers' union Natfhe has described its relationship with management as "appalling", after crisis meetings with managers supervised by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. Vice-chancellor Diana Green has accused the union of trouble-making.

The local coordination committee of Natfhe catalogues its "ongoing concerns" in a comprehensive report for university staff.

The report warns: "In some cases, it remains an open question as to whether we can secure fair and equitable treatment for staff. Natfhe is concerned by the apparent patterns that emerge when (numerous apparently isolated problems) are considered together."

Natfhe's concerns include:

* Researchers "paid the lowest possible rates within the nationally negotiated salary range"

* "A potentially worrying drift towards a position where staff move down scales as well as up"

* No published criteria for performance-related pay

* Proposals to set up Sheffield's business school as a stand-alone, profit-making corporation. This "threatens an unequal and unfair division between incorporated and non-incorporated academic staff"

* The university has "refused to discuss how to avoid possible problems, saying that it will consult, but only in the event that redundancies are necessary". Natfhe has vowed to use equal opportunities legislation to ensure equal pay for equal work.

The union has accused the university of trying to break away from national pay bargaining.

Staff are concerned, the paper says, that "the university seems to be moving away from a partnership approach based upon negotiation towards a more autocratic style".

Professor Green said she was "deeply disappointed" with the document, which was "based on a mixture of history, distortions and ongoing discussions". She said Natfhe was not acting in the spirit of partnership it was espousing.

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