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Members elected to the UCU committee for the 2017-2018 academic year are in post from today.
The committee members for this year are:
Elected committee officers
President: Vicky Blake
Vice-president: Tim Goodall
Treasurer: Nigel Bubb
Honorary secretary: Brendon Nicholls
Recruitment and membership secretary: Ben Plumpton
Equality secretary: Gabriella Alberti
Campaigns secretary: Lesley McGorrigan
Health and safety secretary: Neil Maughan
Elected committee members
The committee can appoint up to four additional committee members, and will be emailing members to seek nominations for those posts.
There were an unusually high number of nominations for men when we asked for nominations before the annual general meeting, so if you’re thinking about whether to nominate someone or seek nominations for one of the four posts, please bear this in mind.
(*The incoming committee has agreed Simon Hewitt will fill the elected vacancy created by Anna Fleming leaving the university for another job, this is subject to approval of the next ordinary general meeting.)
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.
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.
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.