We are writing to follow up on the recent series of meetings concerning industrial action in response to the University management’s campaign of forced redundancies and aggressive management tactics that many of our members perceive to be of a bullying nature. We’ve had an excellent response by BUCU members in support of our colleagues at risk. As you know, the ballot for strike action has now gone out to all members. We are writing to you now to urge you to vote, and to vote yes. It is vital that we have both a high turn-out and a yes vote in order to provide and firm and clear response to management.
The proposal is for strike action beginning Thursday 28 February, starting with half a day a week for three weeks and then two full days in the fourth week. This is designed to create sufficient disruption to teaching, at minimum lost pay, to ensure that the University management will reach an agreement with us. Weekly gaps between strike actions are designed so that we can reach an agreement through negotiations and therefore enable us to call off the industrial action. We will be constantly seeking to reach a negotiated agreement with the University, and avoid the need for industrial action.
We will be holding members’ meetings in departments and schools throughout the 3-week ballot period, and you will soon be invited to attend one of these meetings. Please also feel free to email the branch president at any time for further clarification on the branch position and strategy.
There are six clear arguments for why there should be a yes vote.
1. Unnecessary redundancies: Colleagues are being forced out of their jobs in the Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity (IAA), Sociology, Education and Physiotherapy. A sound case for these redundancies has not been made and BUCU do not agree that they are necessary, particularly given that the University has consistently made a strong surplus every year for many years. More details and also here
2. Aggressive management tactics: Managers are routinely setting unreasonable targets and in many cases unachievable ones. They are forcing staff onto ‘teaching-focused’ contracts, and also wilfully misinterpreting agreed university rules. More details
3. All Options Exhausted: BUCU has worked intensively with university administrators for more than a year to find a solution on redundancies, performance management and other key issues, to no avail. As a result, members have reluctantly but clearly called for a ballot for industrial action. More details
4. Strength in Numbers: A yes vote will significantly strengthen BUCU’s hand in seeking a redundancy avoidance agreement and meaningful involvement in reviews. If staff are excluded from decisions then we have no voice and end up with rushed reviews and flawed consultation as in the case of the IAA.
5. Student Support: Ultimately, the university’s tactics hurt students. The Guild of Students recognized this when it unanimously passed a motion raising concern about the effects that forcing staff members out will have on their education. Read more…
6. Sending a Clear Signal: High turnout and a yes vote will send a clear message to university management that staff have had enough of increasing pressure and bullying tactics. We will not tolerate rushed, poorly conceived and unnecessary redundancies, and we will draw the line at unreasonable forms of performance management.
All ballots have been mailed to BUCU members. Please post your ballot as soon as possible, and no later than the 11thof February to ensure we meet the deadline when the ballot closes.
We hope that all BUCU members can act together and send a clear message to UoB management. As you know, a message was sent to all staff yesterday from the University Provost, in which he insisted that the strike action would be detrimental to this University. Yet, the proposals that we have put to the University are highly reasonable and could easily be agreed to by any reasonable employer, particularly one that values the interests, opinions and job security of its staff. Indeed, many other Russell Group universities already have in place procedures similar to those we are proposing. The difficulties that the Provost mentions are largely the result of poor management decisions. Even with these difficulties, moreover, the University still reported a surplus of £6 million in its most recent annual account. This follows surpluses in previous years of £27 million (2011), £22 million (2010), £25 million (2009), and £18.4 million (2008).We urge the University management to reach an agreement with us – in the interests of avoiding the need for industrial action. A strong yes vote will give us more weight in seeking this outcome, in order to avoid compulsory redundancies and unreasonable management tactics, in the interests of all of us.