University Warns of Possible Move to Compulsory Redundancies

Those members who were able to attend the last EGM will recall two motions that were agreed by members and were subsequently communicated to Management:

Motion 3 – UCU Local Association restates its fundamental opposition to compulsory redundancy.

Motion 4 – UCU Local Association is opposed to all forms of redundancy and severance mechanisms purporting to be voluntary where undue pressure is brought to bear upon those affected.

As a meeting with representatives of HR attended by campus unions earlier this week was winding up, UCU and Unison were advised that the University of Bradford is likely to begin issuing compulsory redundancy notices, where the first of these notices could be issued in a matter of days.

This is an unprecedented move in the 50 year history of the University of Bradford, an institution that has hitherto protected jobs in the face of immensely difficult financial circumstances:

  • In the 1980s, Mrs Thatcher cut the University of Bradford budget by a third – the University of Bradford stood firm against redundancies
  • More recently, the Bradford riots led to a severe downturn in student numbers – the University of Bradford stood firm against redundancies

To quote a T&A article published leading up to our 50th anniversary (23 Oct 2015):

“The university and the city of Bradford are intertwined, they stand and fall together.”

Just a matter of weeks ago, the University was eager to report in the T&A that:

“While the current (StAAR) proposals would see a reduction in 14 FTE posts, we hope that this would be achieved through normal rates of turnover and voluntary agreements.”

As you know, UCU has long considered that the term “voluntary redundancy” has been used to describe a process by which when faced with little choice a member of staff “chooses” to accept an apparent inevitability.   Now however it would seem that Management are beginning to accept that this façade is unsustainable.

UCU have consistently maintained that a move to compulsory redundancy is one that it cannot countenance or support and we will be carefully monitoring the situation as we begin to plan for such a development.

The local branch are disappointed of the failure of HR to email a full statement to campus unions by close of business on that day; this had been promised at the request of unions who were present.

More alarming however is the fact that the significance of this announcement appears to be lost on the Head of HR who did not attend the meeting, choosing inexplicably to leave this important task to a more junior member of staff.

UCU understands that this announcement, which was made in line with agreed protocols, is primarily in relation to the outcome of one of the recent Academic Portfolio Reviews (APR’s), and that current negotiations with those affected are aimed at finding a “voluntary” solution.   Yet again the term “voluntary” is being used, in this case with the likelihood that if that negotiation fails the compulsory route will be taken, which would be laughable if it wasn’t so tragic for those involved!

We believe that this is potentially the thin edge of a much broader wedge.   As the consequences of APR’s work through it is unclear what the overall impact on staffing will be, and Management are unable or unwilling to put any figures on that.   A steady “drip feed” of job losses may pass under the legislative radar, but such disaggregation of numbers to avoid an employer’s legal responsibilities to notify government would be a cynical manipulation of the law.

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