Leeds UCU committee is concerned that university management have taken down many posters about our statutes dispute from all over the campus – even from individual office doors and official union noticeboards. It’s important that members and non-members continue to see the posters around to remind them the dispute is still going on. We need the help of UCU members to keep the dispute visible.
Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to adopt a poster space near you. This could be your own office door or outward facing window, a noticeboard in a staff area in your department, or a public noticeboard in a nearby corridor. Somewhere you visit or go past often. Then we’d like you to put a dispute poster up, and check every now and again that it’s still there, and replace it if it gets taken down. Obviously we wouldn’t advise putting a poster on a notice board designated for another specific purpose, or anywhere inappropriate, but hopefully you can find a suitable space.
Please print off your own posters if you can. You can download one at: poster: industrial action continues (graphic)
If you can’t print them off you can collect a poster from the UCU office, 7.51 EC Stoner. (Best to phone 35904 to check there’s someone in.)
Please let us know if a poster is removed from your office door or a UCU noticeboard, or from a general use noticeboard (unless everything else has been taken off the general use noticeboard as part of a cleanup).
We’ve had quite a few non-members telling us they are concerned about the proposed new statutes, particularly the potential effect on academic freedom. So we’ve made another poster to encourage them to join UCU to help us in the campaign, to print off and put up next to the other one if there’s room: defend academic freedom: join UCU (PDF)
UCU members at the University of Leeds are taking industrial action as part of a dispute with senior management about changes to the university statutes, in effect an imposed change to their contracts. We took strike action on 22 June and we are continuing to take action short of a strike by working to contract. More strikes are expected in the autumn if the university won’t return to the negotiating table and take the concerns of staff seriously. Leeds University management want to be able to dismiss staff for undefined reasons. This could potentially include: ‘Third party’ pressure from corporations or government if they don’t like research findings Sacking employees where there is a personality difference Would students want to be taught by people who are afraid to lose their jobs if they step out of line? Our trade union, UCU, aims to stop this and other worrying changes to staff terms and conditions. We have tried to resolve this dispute by negotiation, including through ACAS (the independent conciliation service), but management remain intransigent. Some background University statutes set out grounds for dismissing staff – currently redundancy, capability, ill health, or conduct. Our management want to add an undefined catch-all category for dismissing staff for ‘Some Other Substantial Reason’ (SOSR). Plus other detrimental changes: No medically qualified chair for panels deciding ill health dismissals No independent legally qualified chair for most dismissal appeals Why could this threaten academic freedom? Academics might be afraid to put forward new ideas or controversial opinions. Imagine the worry about being sacked if you follow an avenue of research that might be unpopular with a major funder. Academic freedom in the pursuit of knowledge is at the heart of a functioning university. A healthy thriving University culture depends on confident staff who can speak and think openly without the fear of dismissal. Please sign our petition at: speakout.web.ucu.org.uk/university-of-leeds-statutes-no-sackers-charter Advice for members on working to contract … Continue reading →
UCU has produced an online email-your-MP page for the University of Leeds statutes dispute, to make it easier to write to your MP. It’s at: ucu.org.uk/contactyourLeedsMP You can customise the letter to highlight your own concerns. If you could visit your MP’s surgery in person that would be great, especially if you live in the Leeds area. Please contact email@example.com as we may be able to arrange a group visit. … Continue reading →
We’re suggesting members contact their Members of Parliament, either by email, letter or by going along to a one of the MP’s surgeries (which will be advertised on their websites). It can be daunting to start from scratch with such a letter, so here’s a template letter you can use if you wish or use as a starting point: Dear [your MP] I am writing as your constituent to raise concerns about proposed new terms and conditions for staff at the University of Leeds, where I work. My trade union, the University and College Union, is in dispute with the university over this, yet the university management is seeking to push through changes at Privy Council imminently, so I am asking you to make some representations on my behalf. Terms and conditions for academic and related staff at the university are governed by the university’s statutes. The management wants to ‘modernise’ these statutes – as I see it, to make it easier for staff to be dismissed. I am concerned about three changes in particular: Removal of a medically qualified chair for panels deciding ill health dismissals Removal of an independent legally qualified chair for most dismissal appeals Addition of ‘some other substantial reason’ (SOSR) as grounds for dismissal (existing grounds are redundancy, capability, ill health, or conduct) With regard to the latter change, the management has suggested that SOSRs might include ‘third party pressure’ (e.g. from corporations or government agencies who are unhappy with certain research findings), ‘breakdown in trust’ (e.g. anyone falling into disagreement with their manager) and ‘conflict of interest’ (e.g. whistleblowers who alert the public or wider academic community to certain issues or concerns). I therefore believe this change would pose a substantial threat to academic freedom. UCU has been negotiating with management over statutes, including via ACAS, but the management has so far refused to withdraw any of these changes. We are now in an official dispute – we took a day’s strike action on 22 June and are continuing with action short of a strike (working to contract). The changes to statute were agreed by the university’s Council, on which staff are in the minority. However, in order to come into force, the new statutes now need to be agreed by Privy Council. If approved by the Privy Council, it will be very difficult to reverse these changes, so I am therefore asking for your … Continue reading →
We were delighted by the support from members (we picketed all 17 university entrances) and from the prospective students and parents attending the Open Day. It would have been hard for any visitor to the Open Day not to notice our strike! The response to our leaflets from prospective students and their parents was overwhelmingly positive. Here are some photos of just a few of our friendly and energetic pickets! If you have any more photos you’d like added to this page, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org – thanks. … Continue reading →