Staff promotions spark policy row

June 29, 2007

The University and College Union has asked the Commission for Racial Equality for "advice and intervention" in a row over equality policy at the University of the West of England, writes Melanie Newman.

The local branch of the UCU has written to the CRE claiming: "We have been unable to locate a race equality policy, disability equality scheme or gender equality scheme [at the university] which meets the minimal compliance requirements of the relevant [statutory] duties."

In a letter to the CRE last week, UCU branch chair Robert Pardoe raised concerns about staff promotions.

Discussions between the UCU and the university on the make-up of a race equality impact assessment group stalled after a dispute over membership.

The UCU was concerned about the inclusion of three personnel officers as members.

A UCU source said a substantial number of readerships had been advertised in the Easter holidays, sparking fears that some people had been "earmarked" for the jobs. After complaints, the application period was extended by a week to allow more time for applications.

UWE vice-chancellor Sir Howard Newby strongly denied UWE's equality policies were in any way inadequate. He said: "I am determined that the university will build on its strengths and become even more diverse than it already is... We have already made good progress, with representation from minority ethnic groups more than twice that of the region."

He added that while the university did much to promote equality of opportunity, it was keen to work with the UCU on its diversity agenda.

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