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RUCU Ballots on Contracts and Procedures 2016

Thank you to those who have already voted on the Contract and Procedure Ballots. It is essential members engage with this process as the changes will have direct – and long-term – consequences for staff at Reading University. Please read through the commentaries attached to your original voting emails and take time to consider your stance on what is being proposed by Senior Management.

The changes are very serious. As regards Statutes, we believe the main reason the University wishes to get rid of Statutes is to enable changes to be made much more quickly in the future to the employment procedures.

Under the new procedures – let us be clear – the University is seeking to make it easier and quicker to restructure areas and to make staff redundant. For example, it is clear that the new procedures for restructuring groups which involve fewer than 20 staff at risk of redundancy are variously streamlined, with less oversight from management, and potentially will take place more quickly.

It will also be easier to dismiss Academic staff. Under the current Statute 33 three academic staff from Systems Engineering were made redundant earlier this year.  All three appealed against their dismissal, and all their appeals, heard by a barrister, were upheld on legal grounds. THIS WOULD NOT HAPPEN UNDER THE NEW PROCEDURES: it is unlikely that the appeals would have been won, as the University repeatedly said, when UCU challenged the University on exactly the same grounds as the barrister, that the process was fair and legal. The appellant would be left to take the university to an industrial tribunal, a costly and difficult process.

In relation to the new Contracts, should the University remove employment procedures from Statutes and place them in new procedures, the academic contract will need to be reformulated to reflect this.  Thus, the University has prepared new academic contracts and they have also taken the opportunity to modernise and alter the contract in other ways to reflect current University practice. We continually requested that the procedures (the material constantly referred to as being in the ‘staff handbook’) be made contractual, to safeguard against unagreed changes, but the University has refused to move on this.

The RUCU Branch believe this is as far as negotiations can go in relation to Contracts and Procedures. The next step, if members resist these changes, would be to enter into a formal dispute with the University, which has its own negotiation procedure. Then, if that is unsuccessful, to go to industrial action. It is all the more important therefore that members engage now so that their voice is heard.

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