Lecturers to consider striking
Strike action is being proposed by the University College Union (UCU) for University staff members.
Forthcoming months will see whether lecturers and other members of staff will strike on grounds that the University have not honoured previous agreements that were promised last academic year, which allegedly will place more jobs at risk.
Last March saw the proposed closure of the Centre for Joint Honours with the University offering students support from their separate teaching schools. There were also a series of strikes from members of staff over job losses.
Nationally, there are also strikes being discussed concerning changes to pension schemes. Malcolm Povey, Leeds University president of UCU, talking about the nationwide situation, said: “We are facing an enormous attack from the government and this effects the quality of education.”
At Leeds University there is also a third strike proposal over a ‘local dispute’, which is specific to the University. UCU highlight a number of issues worthy of such action including the use of ‘Academic Activity Profiles’ which Malcolm Povey claims is a system of ranking staff members in terms of achievement and that this is a way of preselecting staff members for redundancy.
A University spokesperson commented: “Academic activity profiles are a way of presenting information in a School in a way which is transparent, open and collegial. The information in question is already available to managers – we want it to be more available to all the academics in a School. We recognise that there needs to be safeguards about how the information is used and we have said to UCU that we want to work with them to ensure these are established.”
UCU have also suggested that changes made within particular schools should be a decision making process for the school itself and not the wider university, as they would be in a better position to know what would benefit the school.
The University have attempted to counter this argument. A spokesperson said: “Major organisational change needs to be managed in a framework which ensures that the staff are fully engaged in the process, that the trades unions are consulted as appropriate, and that decisions affecting the academic mission of the University are subject to the approval of the Senate as the academic authority of the University. Staff in any school under review are fully engaged throughout the process, and can contribute fully to decisions about the future of their school.”
There have also been concerns of staff members feeling “displaced” as their day-to-day job role may change due to their previous job no longer existing after restructuring has taken place. Mark Oley, Regional Director of UCU, in his letter addressed to Vice Chancellor (V.C) Michael Arthur has called for: ”All displaced staff to be given appropriate posts at their current grades or higher.”
The Vice Chancellor Michael Arthur has responded by saying at the moment this is “untenable”.
Hopes are that the UCU and the University can reach a middle ground in thee coming weeks before further strike action goes ahead.
The Vice Chancellor said he “remains committed to talking.”