In its recent Staff Briefing response to the T&A article, the University was keen to point out that the article misreported that 20% of ALL staff would be downgraded as a result of StAAR, which is clearly not the case.
In fact, the T&A quoted the Unison Branch Secretary as saying that “They are threatening to potentially downgrade 20 per cent of the current workforce…”. If taken out of context then the University may well have a point. Of course the quote was in reference to the Unison dispute with the University over their proposals in respect of StAAR, which of course DOES have the potential to result in the downgrading of 20% of those staff in scope. In fact, the University in a statement to the T&A confirmed that there could be job losses – something that it was impossible to deny, but did not directly challenge the 20% downgrading claims despite doing so in the “closed article” on Staff Briefing.
In an almost Orwellian misrepresentation of reality, the University claims that at this stage and until matching and slotting has been undertaken “it is not possible to say if anyone would actually move between grades”. What is possibly true is that it will be difficult at this stage to understand how individuals might be affected, but clearly if there are less posts overall, and no posts at Grade 5 when that is currently the most common grade, there is surely an inevitability that significant downgrading will occur. That, as they say, is not rocket science!
There is, says the University, an opportunity to appeal, but equally the University is at pains to point out that “the consultation document….sets out a distribution of roles (not existing staff) and their grading”. Quite how one can appeal the grade of a role that has been designed to meet the grade offered is perplexing, unless of course the University accepts that its expertise in the grading of roles is less than it should be.
On the issue of consultation the University claims that the T&A article asserts that “staff, academics, students and their respective representatives have been informed about the proposals at very short notice, and have not been involved in developing the proposals.” In fact, the article merely says that “Unison has hit out after the proposals were revealed to staff within the last few weeks”. It is however true that staff had first sight of a new structure at a presentation to which they had been invited at short notice, rather than having the opportunity to digest the organisational structure prior to coming to the presentation. Control and restriction of information – another Orwellian tactic!