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July 31st, 2020:

Update on negotiations: 30/07/20

In the last ten days since the EGM we’ve made considerable progress in the discussions and negotiations with the University. At the consultation group meeting yesterday the University tabled the first draft of an outline confidential offer to staff. This offer calculated savings to be made which would dramatically reduce the risk of redundancies, leaving 55 potential redundancies. There were some other wins: agreement that cuts and redundancies will be contingent on agreed independently measurable points; a link to the national pay scales; and the reintroduction of a voluntary redundancy scheme. However, it did not guarantee zero redundancies, relied on both a pay freeze for up to three years and a one-year tiered pay cut based on grade, ranging from 5% to 15%, and it had no meaningful governance reform.

Your negotiating team is not prepared to put this proposal to members in its current form. We believe it can be improved. We are now proposing to enter into direct negotiations with the University: this will be a tighter, faster process still, and we will continue to need your input. This is the starting point and we may table our own counter proposal later. The University has indicated that it will be willing to continue with discussions based on the results of our consultation with you, the members, in the round.

Nothing has yet been agreed. The process of negotiation means that our job as negotiators is to get the best possible offer for you the members: that offer will then be put to you all in a secret ballot. We will not recommend how you vote in that ballot: what we will do is make all of the implications clear, so that you can assess how you would like to vote. However, we don’t want to put an offer to you unnecessarily: we want to be confident that we have acted on the basis of your priorities.

If you have not yet completed our survey, or have not yet contacted me or your department rep with your views, please do so as soon as possible. One of the things that really matters is whether you want us to prioritise zero redundancies over pay cuts or vice versa. We will obviously push for much more but we may not succeed in winning everything that you, the members, want. At the EGM, members voted in favour of jobs first, which will mean taking a hit on salary if student numbers are as bad as the University expects. We need to know what all our members think, including if they’ve changed their mind.

I must repeat that this is only the tip of the iceberg in the negotiations: we are also challenging the figures set out by the University to underlie its case. These include – but are not limited to – the overall financial predictions, the predicted admissions numbers, the projected savings set out on John Brady’s offer, and the resources available to the University including government financing.

I will send another update very soon.

RUCU President