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Reply by Reading UCU president to letter from President of Council, 22 April

22 April 2016
Dear Christopher,

Thank you for your letter of 19 April about the outcome of the vote of no confidence. As you mention, the vote was not organised by Reading UCU, although we did lend support towards its organisation. Thus, I will share your letter with Sally Pellow, and ask her to share it with the Vote of No Confidence Committee, who may wish to reply to you in due course.
A vote of no confidence has, by convention, to be against a person, not an organisation or other more nebulous body. In this case the VC, as head of the University, is the appropriate person. I made it clear to the Vote of No Confidence Committee that this was not to be a personal attack on the VC but rather a vote of no confidence in the wider management of the university, which the VC, as head, represents. This was accepted by the committee and I have come across no cases of personal attack on the VC, and neither has the VC mentioned any such personal attacks to me. Should you be able to substantiate the allegations you make in your letter please take this up with the Vote of No Confidence Committee.
You will be aware that votes of no confidence are not commonly held in UK universities. They are not something staff run to over slight differences of opinion. Rather, they only occur over deep-seated and long-term grievances and where there is a sense that the valid and serious concerns of staff are not being listened to by management. That is why a vote of no confidence was the right and proper action of staff in this circumstance.
This is the first vote of no confidence held at Reading in its 90-year history as an independent university. Thus, I find your comments that ‘the outcome of such exercises has no bearing on the issues at stake and undertaking such exercises is not,
I believe, helpful to the wider interests of the University’ very disappointing. The fact that over 1000 staff members were prepared to vote against confidence in the University is surely telling, but should not be a surprise. Staff at all levels up to Deans, along with Reading UCU, have repeatedly expressed their grave concerns over this process to the UEB and you will recall that two highly experienced lay Council members strongly cautioned against such a wholesale reorganisation when the University first brought its proposals to Council.
Reading UCU remains ready and willing to respond positively to approaches from the University that recognise and seek to address the concerns of staff in this matter. We will not, however, respond positively to attempts to belittle or ignore these genuine concerns.

Yours sincerely,
Dr Paul Hatcher

President Reading UCU

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