Robert Gordon argues contracts

July 19, 1996

The Robert Gordon University is appealing against a Court of Session judgment which ruled that its bid to introduce revised contracts for new staff was unlawful.

The appeal centres on whether agreements made in 1988 through the former statutory body, the Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee for Further Education, are binding for new contracts. Lord Milligan ruled that subsequent legislation allowed the settlement to remain in force despite the SJNC's abolition.

But university secretary David Caldwell said RGU was not convinced that this was the only possible interpretation. "We are advised that there is sufficient doubt about what the law intends for it to be worth going to appeal."

The university argued that revised contracts, which increased working hours for all new academics, and existing staff who were promoted or had short-term contracts renewed, would bring it into line with traditional universities and former polytechnics.

Mr Caldwell said the contracts, which stipulated ten weeks' holiday plus public holidays, were an anomaly. The university was concerned that if it could only employ new staff on this basis, it was not competing on the same terms as most other institutions.

The Educational Institute of Scotland, which mounted the legal challenge, claims that cutting holidays to six weeks, and increasing the working week from 321/2 hours to 37, ushered in the worst conditions in the country.

But Mr Caldwell said: "We think it would be much more sensible to recognise that six weeks plus public holidays is all that can realistically be managed."

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