Strike resolution details

March 22, 2013 § 2 Comments

Dear BUCU members,

further to our last email, we are writing now with details of the agreements reached in resolving our dispute with the University management. We believe that this was an excellent outcome and provides clear basis for us to grow in size and influence at the University of Birmingham.

Much of the agreement was achieved in the spirit of ensuring good process in the area of potential redundancies and performance management. We believe that this represents a recognition by the University management that a hostile relationship with staff members and with BUCU is unconstructive and damaging to the interests of the University. It is therefore hoped, on the side of both BUCU and the University management, that this will mark a more constructive relationship. Obviously, should this situation fail to arise, and University management continue to undermine the interests of BUCU members, then we will need to address these problems again and once more assert our interests. What we have achieved for now, however, is a clear recognition that we represent the interests of staff at the University of Birmingham and that we are able to assert those interests in a form that cannot be ignored. We must, therefore, build on this achievement and continue to be diligent in our attempts to protect our working conditions and ensure the construction of a working environment conducive to successful academic careers.

The details of the agreement are as follows:

1. We sought to avoid compulsory redundancies in Sociology, Education, the Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity, and Physiotherapy.

In Sociology, Education, the Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity we have managed to avoid all threatened compulsory redundancies. This was achieved through enhanced voluntary redundancy agreements, the creation of additional posts and extended arrangements for existing posts.

In Physiotherapy we have agreed a ringfencing procedure – whereby external recruitment will be delayed until the threat affecting existing staff has been addressed. This, combined with a number of enhanced voluntary redundancy agreements, has created a situation where compulsory redundancies are very unlikely to occur (although it remains much earlier in the restructure process for Physiotherapy so this cannot yet be confirmed definitively).

2. We sought the agreement of a redundancy avoidance agreement.

We have now reached an agreement with the University management on seeking to avoid compulsory redundancies arising from restructuring proposals . This contains a number of important procedural changes that will provide BUCU with a much firmer role both ahead of, and within, any redundancy consultation process that may occur when the University management considers restructuring.

Our key aims in the redundancy avoidance agreement were as follows:

i. To increase the consultation period beyond the statutory minimum. This was agreed, with a doubling of the consultation period beyond the (new) statutory minimum of 30 days, to 60 days.

ii. To create a redundancy avoidance committee. It was agreed that the Joint Negotiating and Consultation Committee (JNCC) would provide an opportunity for BUCU to be regularly consulted on developments within the University in order to avoid potential redundancy situations.

iii. For redundancy consultation periods to involved fortnightly meetings. This was agreed.

iv. To continue to conduct equality impact assessments, despite the removal of this statutory obligation. This was agreed.

v. For consultation to be meaningful and with a view to reaching an agreement. This was agreed.

vi. For the University management to consider a range of options that would avoid redundancies, including seeking redeployment opportunities outside of the University. This was agreed.

vii. That branch facilities time would be increased in order to enable branch officers to attend this increased number of consultation meetings. This was agreed.

3. We sought the agreement of a memorandum of understanding on performance management.

We have now agreed a memorandum of understanding on performance management with the University management (attached). This includes a number of procedural safeguards intended to prevent bullying or aggressive management practices, and a commitment that any future changes to performance management schemes will be adopted on the basis of collective discussions between the management and the union, with a view to reaching an agreement between both parties.

Our key aims in the redundancy avoidance agreement were as follows:

i. Any change to SDR (i.e. to PDR) to be negotiated with BUCU and agreed to by both parties. Whilst this wasn’t agreed in full, we did agree a form of words that was acceptable to both parties. Thus, it is agreed that “it is proposed [that SDR] will be replaced by the Performance and Development Review (PDR) Scheme, about which proposals are being considered under the auspices of the Joint Negotiating and Consultation Committee with a view to reaching agreement.”

ii. Clarification of the use of Ordinance 3.21.5 will only be invoked when there is concern that staff performance might have declined below the “minimum satisfactory standards”. This was agreed.

iii. Clarification that the Ordinance 3.21.5 process will be followed in full (i.e. rather than selecting the punitive sections only) and that it will be set out in writing. This was agreed.

iv. Ensuring that those undertaking the Ordinance 3.21.5 process are properly trained. This was agreed.

v. That the memorandum would apply to all ‘live’ and recent cases. This could not be agreed, and the negotiating team believe that we were unlikely to achieve the retrospective re-opening of previous cases. The memorandum will therefore only apply to future cases.

Regards,

BUCU committee

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