Statute VII: Update from Vice-Chancellor

As you may be aware, the University and College Union (UCU) is calling on its members to take industrial action in support of its dispute with the University over the reform of Statute VII

Dear Colleague,

As you may be aware, the University and College Union (UCU) is calling on its members to take industrial action in support of its dispute with the University over the reform of Statute VII, and in particular the introduction of a procedure to regulate dismissal for reasons other than redundancy, conduct, capability or ill health.  

This action will take the form of ongoing 'action short of a strike' – specifically, working to contract – from 16 June 2017, and a one-day strike on 22 June 2017.

Whilst I appreciate you may not be a UCU member, the whole University needs to be aware of the potential impact of this industrial action.

I do of course respect the right of staff to take industrial action, but on this occasion genuinely believe that it is unnecessary.  The University has spent a considerable amount of time trying to address all the concerns raised by the UCU and the vast bulk of the changes to these employment procedures have been agreed with the UCU. In addition, the University continued to engage in negotiations (despite the UCU having initiated its ballot process), and the procedure which was causing discontent has been substantially re-written and re-titled to reiterate safeguards to protect academic freedom and to guard against abuse. This means that the procedure is now very different from the draft on the table when the UCU began its ballot.

I would therefore encourage colleagues, before they decide to take industrial action, to take the time to read for themselves the revised Procedure for the Resolution of Substantial Employment Issues.  I very much hope that you will agree that the procedure is a fair and reasonable one, containing the necessary protections and safeguards, and that you decide not to participate in this action.

In any case, please remember that the University is not introducing new grounds for dismissal; the current Statute itself does not prevent us from dismissing staff for any reason within the law.  We are simply codifying the procedure we would follow in any rare case where the procedures for dismissal on grounds of redundancy, conduct, capability or ill health do not apply.  We are doing this in the interests of transparency and to ensure that there are clear safeguards.

If the material shared by the University (available on this page) does not clarify any outstanding points you may have, then please don’t hesitate to contact your Head of School/Service and/or your local HR Manager.

Finally, I sincerely hope that the outcome of the General Election will mean that there is much less of a shrill tone on Brexit, immigration and grammar schools, and a more rounded recognition of the crucial role that universities play in the economic, environmental, social and cultural development of the country. That said, challenges remain and I hope that we can work together to make our University the best that it can be: meeting the needs and aspirations of students; undertaking world-class research; and promoting our international ambitions.

Best wishes,

Alan Langlands
Vice-Chancellor