An e-poll of UCU members at the University of Leeds has shown 74% in favour of the union moving to a strike ballot and for taking strike action over the disputed proposal for a new catch-all statute for “dismissal for some other substantial reason”. UCU’s national executive committee has declared this a dispute of national significance, and the union is moving towards a formal industrial action ballot. University senior management has told UCU they don’t see the point in further local negotiations as they aren’t prepared to climb down from their position that “dismissal for some other substantial reason” must be enshrined in statute. UCU is calling on the university senior management to get back around the table and continue negotiating to try to work out how they can dismiss staff people in the rare cases that it it’s necessary and appropriate without creating a sacker’s charter which could leave many staff looking over their shoulders if they disagree with their head of school or criticise a major research funder.
The university management have told all staff that dismissal for ‘some other substantial reason’ (SOSR) is within the law and that they want to update our Statutes to reflect this. Management have no right, under our current Statute, to make dismissals for ‘some other substantial reason’. ‘Dismissal for some other substantial reason’ has been within the law since the 1970s, but university management here, and in other institutions across the country, chose not to stoop to the legal minimum protection when updating their university statutes in the 1980s and 1990s. So, why now? Our conditions at the University of Leeds are better than the law in many ways (paid parental leave and sick pay, for example) and we want to keep it that way. We don’t think our conditions of employment (or anyone’s, for that matter) should be pared down to the basic legal minimum of “anything that’s not illegal”. ‘Dismissal for some other substantial reason’ is potentially dangerous because it could be so wide ranging. We’ve already given you examples e.g. breakdown in trust, third party pressure. In terms of the University Executive Group (UEG) being exempt from Statute, neither the Senate paper or the paper that went to … continue reading
You are likely to receive an e-poll later today or tomorrow from national UCU about the Statute dispute. This will be in indicative online poll (not the industrial action ballot, which will be by post). Please vote yes to industrial action in the indicative online poll. All of this week we’ll be holding meetings across the main campus to inform members about our dispute over Statute. These will be briefing and campaign planning meetings. Please do your best to attend one of the meetings. I’ve added some suggestions about who might attend which meeting, but these are just based on location, so whether you are in a faculty or a service, feel free to attend whichever is most convenient to you. Please note, all the meetings are 12-1 EXCEPT Friday which is 1-2pm. Date and Time Location Suggested Faculties Monday 20thMarch 12-1 Worsley SR 9.58c FBS and FMH Tuesday 21stMarch 12-1 Civil Engineering Lecture Theatre B (3.25) Engineering Wednesday 22ndMarch 12-1 Liberty Building Lecture Theatre LG 06 Law and LUBS Thursday 23rdMarch 12-1 EC Stoner SR 7.70 MaPS and Environment Friday 24th March 1-2 Michael Sadler Building LG15 Arts and rest of ESSL We will organise a separate meeting for … continue reading
Do you think your management should be able to sack you for any reason they like? Statutes are part of the terms and conditions of academic and academic related staff. The University wants to add a provision to dismiss people for “some other substantial reason” which they say could include: • third party pressure • breakdown of trust • conflict of interest This is a threat to academic freedom. The University’s Statutes set out procedures covering all stages from informal stage, through formal stages, including appeals. These Statutes already contain many grounds for dismissal – redundancy, capability, ill health, conduct – which should cover anything significant. But management want to introduce an additional catch-all dismissal clause – “Some Other Substantial Reason” (SOSR). UCU has been negotiating over the proposed new Statutes for some time, trying to prevent your terms and conditions from being eroded. But the university has refused to concede on SOSR. They also want to scrap having independent chairs for appeals and independent medical experts for ill health cases. The Human Resources director circulated an email to staff with examples of when this new SOSR statute might be used: “conflict of interest, breakdown in trust and confidence, mistake or … continue reading
Update 16 December: University HR have circulated an email about this to all staff today entitled “Proposed changes to Statute”. Leeds UCU would be grateful to hear your response to this email – please email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org The university’s Statutes are part of the terms and conditions of academic and academic-related staff. They set out the procedures for redundancy, grievance, discipline and dismissal, including appeals. UCU has been negotiating with the university management for some time over updates to Statutes, and some progress has been made. However, management has recently introduced a new grounds for dismissal – “some other substantial reason” – which will make it much easier for the university to dismiss people for any reason. What a way to celebrate being University of the Year! It doesn’t entirely chime with the VC saying one of the contributors to that award was “unparalleled investments in our staff”. The current Statutes are at www.leeds.ac.uk/secretariat/statutes.html What does “some other substantial reason” (SOSR) mean? It could be anything including cases where there is a personality clash, raising insufficient funding or not publishing enough, or simply that an individual no longer fits the academic interests of a department. Or perhaps the … continue reading