Redundant academic ruling defied

April 14, 1995

The Robert Gordon University has rejected an industrial tribunal ruling to reinstate the first academic made compulsorily redundant in Scotland.

Earlier this year, the tribunal ruled that the university failed to prove that Sheena Falconer, a senior lecturer in textiles, was genuinely redundant when she was dismissed two years ago. She was faced with the options of redundancy or taking the university's other textiles post, which was held by her sister.

But RGU now says that after "careful and objective deliberation" on the tribunal's findings, it has decided that it is not practicable to re-engage Mrs Falconer. It is preparing to argue its case at a further hearing.

It says that over the past two years, its school of food and consumer studies has functioned smoothly, without the need for additional staff, and that re-engaging Mrs Falconer would force the university to consider the likely redundancy of someone else. It says it cannot find a suitable academic or non-academic vacancy elsewhere in the university, and cannot create an extra post unless it is self-financing.

Government-imposed efficiency gains of 3 per cent over the next three years mean the university faces the prospect of its annual income falling by Pounds 3 million by 1998, it says. Re-engaging Mrs Falconer "would exacerbate an already difficult financial situation and jeopardise the jobs of other staff members."

Jack Dale, further and higher education secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, Mrs Falconer's union, said: "We are extremely disappointed that the university has declined to offer re-engagement. It remains our view that it is practicable, and I think there are other alternatives that could have been looked at."

Mr Dale said that RGU won the highest grant increase in last month's allocations from the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council, and was therefore better placed to absorb the impact of Government cuts than other institutions.

No date has yet been set for the tribunal hearing.

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