Union attacks Pounds 15,000 award

July 21, 1995

Scotland's largest teaching union has accused the Robert Gordon University of undermining staff confidence and tarnishing its reputation following a settlement deal with a redundant academic.

Jack Dale, further and higher education official of the Educational Institute of Scotland, said RGU had exploited legislation to treat Sheena Falconer, the first Scottish academic to be made compulsorily redundant, with the utmost severity.

Earlier this year, an industrial tribunal found that RGU had failed to prove that Mrs Falconer, a senior lecturer in textiles, was genuinely redundant when she was dismissed two years ago. The university rejected a ruling to reinstate her, saying this was impracticable.

The tribunal also awarded Mrs Falconer Pounds 41,000 compensation, but on the eve of a further hearing, the university has settled the case with an award of only Pounds 15,330. This is the sum which would have been awarded under legislation in force at the time of Mrs Falconer's sacking.

The university argued that it could only settle within the statutory limits, but Mr Dale said there was no statutory restriction on its discretion to pay the Pounds 41,000.

"I believe the management of the university owes Mrs Falconer and all her former colleagues a public explanation of its refusal to comply with the order of the tribunal," he said.

A university spokesman said: "The university's position has been clear, consistent and statutorily correct. A full explanation is being prepared for distribution and will be available publicly."

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