Wednesday, 2 September 2009

UCU Greylists London Met

This email was sent to all members of the University and College Union this morning concerning the dispute the union is in with London Metropolitan University. Greylisting is the UCU's "nuclear option". Therefore it's imperative the action succeeds and brings management back to the negotiating table.

Dear colleague,

As you will know, I seldom email you directly and only do so when I feel that a situation is extremely important to our union. As such, it is with regret that I write to you today to formally notify you of the greylisting of London Metropolitan University (LMU). Those of you who have been in the union since its inception or were in one of the predecessor unions, AUT or NATFHE, will be aware that this is the most serious sanction available to us and this will be the first time in UCU's history when greylisting has been formally implemented rather then threatened (such as at Keele University and Nottingham Trent University).

As of today, 1 September, UCU will be asking colleagues across the country, other trade unions, labour movement organisations and the international academic community to support our members at the university in any way possible, including:

* non-attendance, speaking at or organising academic or other conferences at LMU
* not applying for any advertised jobs at LMU
* not giving lectures at LMU
* not accepting positions as visiting professors or researchers at LMU
* not writing for any academic journal which is edited at or produced by LMU
* not taking up new contracts as external examiners for taught courses

If you are able to support in this way, please email:

Please could I also ask that you, as a matter of urgency, write to the
vice-chancellor at LMU, Alfred Morris ( ) to:

* express your concern
* state that that you will not take part in any collaboration with LMU for the duration of greylisting
* call on the university to honour UCU's redundancy avoidance procedure
* request that the findings of the independent enquiry currently being conducted by Deloitte Touche are made public and are acted upon
* call for an urgent internal review of LM management following the reports of both HEFCE and Deloitte Touche

Please copy any correspondence to:

All UCU members are also asked to consider the following questions and respond as soon as possible to in order that we support our colleagues and students at London Metropolitan as effectively as possible.

* Are you involved in collaborative research activity with LMU?
* Are you aware of any collaboration between LMU and other HE/FE institutions, including international?
* Are you planning to attend any conferences and/or are you booked as an external speaker/guest lecture?
* Are you aware of any high profile speakers or events being planned at LMU?
* Are you aware or involved in any other collaborative relationships - such as with business?
* Have you been approached to be an external examiner at LMU?

Background to the dispute:

As I am sure you will by now be aware, toward the end of last year, LMU was hit by a £15 million reduction in recurring grant and repayment demands totalling more than £36 million by HEFCE following submissions of incorrect student completion records. The university responded by stating that they intended to cut 550 posts. Despite our best efforts over the last nine months to attempt to persuade the university to enter into formal negotiations to reach a resolution, and a vigorous, nationally and regionally supported branch campaign, including industrial action, the university is forging ahead with the planned compulsory redundancies – the first 50 FTEs of which are imminent.

The situation at London Metropolitan University is unprecedented. The vice-chancellor, Brian Roper resigned in March and a special report into HEFCE's role in the crisis at LMU was published last month (available here). After months of public pressure from the academic community, UCU and our sister unions, Deloitte Touche have been commissioned to undertake an independent inquiry into the situation at London Met and UCU will be contributing to this inquiry.

UCU's position:

We believe that this reinforces the dire need for a fresh start for London Metropolitan. The staff and the students deserve a new leadership and new, open and productive industrial relations. Yet, in spite of our calls for a suspension of their proposals until after the independent reports have been made public, the management appears dogmatically committed to press on with its plans to make 550 redundancies of which many, we fear, will be compulsory.

I believe that we cannot stand back and allow this university to be destroyed. We cannot stand by and allow hundreds of staff and students pay the price for a catastrophic failure of management and governance. As a national union, we must be able to say that it is unacceptable for staff to pay for mismanagement with their jobs and students to suffer huge detriment to their education and we must establish the principle that universities must be accountable for their actions.

UCU remains committed to a negotiated solution and we hope that management will back away from a course which we believe will threaten the long-term future of the university.

Many thanks,

Sally Hunt,
UCU General Secretary

No comments: