City University Students Union Executive voted unanimously in support of the strike action!

We are delighted to inform you that City University Students Union Executive voted unanimously in support of the strike action being taken by UCU, UNISON & UNITE on 31st October 2013. We wish to extend the thanks of all our members to the Executive for their support.

We are working closely with the Students Union Officers and will keep you updated with our plans for the 31st October. Let’s hope that this show of strength and solidarity will see our VC, Paul Curran, as the Chair of UCEA (the employers association) request an early return to the negotiating table.

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PSR ONE – the true story

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The City University Joint Trade Unions’ final submission on the PSR, along with Management’s so-called response, is now available on the intranet at https://intranet.city.ac.uk/staff/professional-services-review/consultation-documents.html. We urge all staff, including academics, to read both and to make your own judgements as to the quality of the documents. Our final submission was made after 90 days of consultation. It does not contain every counterproposal we made, but outlines our main concerns and requests for Management to reconsider its proposals. This was the only opportunity that the TUs had to address the PSR Steering Group on individual Professional Service areas; all our other meetings were held with Professional Service Directors who had no power to make any positive changes to proposals relating to their own areas. You will note from Management’s response that not even the most minor suggestions in our final submission were accepted.

There are many areas in the Management response that we consider fail to adequately address the TU’s counterproposals, but we will not list them all here.  However, we believe that two points cannot go without comment:

  • It is notable that Management failed to make any response to our comments regarding various financial matters that we consider to be relevant: There was no comment on the profligacy of expenditure by our VC on his grace and favour residence, the cost of academic recruitment, the increasing cost of external consultants, the cost of previous reorganisations and restructures, and the overall cost of the PSR exercise. No comment at all on the PSR savings being born solely by job losses and the down-grading of hard working professional staff. No comment at all on the fact that Management’s mantra of ‘too many and too well paid’ was not applied to any member of UET, nor any of the Professional Service Directors. We believe this is simply shameful.
  • The implied criticism of the TUs regarding the consultation process (section 3 refers to ‘terms originally tabled on 28th March 2013 and still under discussion some 11 weeks later’). It is worth reminding Management that they put forward proposals which led to a significant worsening of agreed policy regarding pay protection, and that were significantly disadvantageous to lower grade staff, with only one month’s contractual notice. The TUs had to fight an intransigent Management to achieve a modest increase in the period of pay protection, and concessions that protected all grades, and our colleagues who had joined the University recently. That is why it took 11 weeks and – even then – these concessions were only grudgingly agreed by Management. Further, on the question of delay, we wish to place on record that the Trade Unions tabled Redundancy Avoidance Policies on the 7th March and are still waiting for Management to agree to discuss these.

At the end of the process, we can be proud that we did win some concessions from Management regarding jobs and grades and, whilst relatively minor, the concessions achieved on VR terms and pay protection meant a lot to those staff affected. The issue now for the TUs will be to ensure that staff ‘at risk’ are treated fairly, and that the University makes every effort to ensure that there are no compulsory redundancies. We already have concerns regarding Management’s intentions in this area and we intend to monitor this process closely. We will also be monitoring agreed leave dates to ensure consistency and transparency. Please keep us informed of any concerns. We are also actively pursuing issues regarding shift / unsocial hour allowances for IS staff, and are seeking to ensure that Security Staff posts are fully filled following the PSR 1 departures.

In the coming weeks and months, we will be turning our attention towards PSR 2, the so-called ‘transformational arrangements’, and also proposals for reviews of the Research Office and Library. We will be arguing that the proposals we tabled in March regarding organisational change and redundancy avoidance must be properly considered. We will be arguing that lessons are learnt by Management following the disastrous PSR 1, and that every effort is made to prevent the same mistakes occurring again. We intend to ensure that every independent member of Council is fully aware of the true impact of this reorganisation. We have scheduled our first open staff PSR 2 meeting for 1pm on 16th September.

The true cost of PSR 1 is now becoming apparent. Many talented, loyal and dedicated members of staff have already left, or will be leaving us in the coming weeks. These staff have either been forced out, or become so demoralised by the proposed changes to their jobs and grades that they have decided to leave. Across the University, teams have been devastated by the proposals. The Marketing teams in several schools no longer exist, HR support has been cut to unprecedented low levels, and IT/AV support will be substantially eroded. Staff that remain report that morale is at an all-time low, and that the ‘sword of Damocles’ still hangs over their heads. This is all a result of the way Management has handled PSR, and its failure to embrace true consultation and redundancy avoidance, resulting in a significant risk to the University at a crucial and difficult time. We firmly believe that the staff cost savings generated will be heavily outweighed by the negative impact on student recruitment and satisfaction.

We wish to place on record our thanks to all of our colleagues who got involved in the open meetings, attended the consultation meetings as local representatives, and put their views forward directly to Management and through the TUs. Without you, we would have won no concessions from an increasingly out of touch and hawkish Management.

The Trade Unions end Phase One of PSR larger, stronger, more determined, more respected and more united than ever before. We intend to enter into all future talks constructively and are determined to try to re-establish good employee relations.  But let the message to Management be very clear: the Trade Unions will again vigorously protect the interests of staff. We will work alongside the students and Students Union Officers to protect the University from the worst excesses of the ‘Vision’ – and will seek to ensure that City University, London stays true to its traditions as a first rate University dedicated to student employability, business and the professions.

Monika Eady (Unite), Jordy Lea (UNISON) & Keith Simpson (UCU) on behalf of the City University, London Joint Trade Unions.

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