Row escalates over proposed University job cuts

Photo - Tomos Nolan

Photo – Tomos Nolan

THE ROW OVER Aberystwyth University’s proposed reorganisation of their administrative workforce continues, with the University and College Union (UCU) claiming that 19 jobs could be under threat.

The University, however, has claimed that a “broadly similar number of roles” would remain if the proposals for new structures were accepted, whilst also maintaining that the proposals were circulated “with the agreement of local representatives and full time officers of Unison, Unite, and the University and College Union”. In reaction to this, a UCU spokesperson has stated that the unions have been “misrepresented”.

“We are concerned that specific groups are being specifically targeted which will lead to the loss of 19 full-time equivalent posts”

“A number of staff, many of them parents of young children, are on 30-hour contracts. A lot of posts on higher salary grades could also be affected which would mean that workers in their late 40s and early 50s with a lot of institutional experience could be discriminated against”

Following the release of the planned reorganisation, UCU held an Emergency General Meeting on the 16th December, unanimously passing a motion stating that “UCU’s position has been misrepresented” and that “the proposed restructure will have an adverse impact on part-time employees…making it discriminatory under the provisions of the Equality Act 2010.” The Union called on the University to “halt immediately the process of re-organisation of administrative provision within institutes”.

A University spokesperson commented:

“The University has been reviewing the structures and requirements for administrative and clerical services within the Institutes.

Since September 2013, the University has been working closely with local representatives and full-time officers of the University’s recognised trade unions UNISON, UNITE and UCU to develop a pilot matching and slotting process.

This process will, wherever possible, facilitate the transfer of staff from existing roles to new roles of a comparable grading in the proposed new structure without being put ‘at risk’, which would have been unavoidable under the University’s current process.

With the  agreement of local representatives and full time officers of UNISON,  UNITE and UCU, details of the draft pilot matching and slotting process and proposed new structures were circulated for consultation on Wednesday 11 December.

The period of consultation, which was originally planned to run until the end of January 2014, has now been extended to 28 February 2014 in response to a request by UNISON.

The consultation offers staff and the trade unions every opportunity to comment on the proposed process and new structures.

The final process and structures will not be agreed until the consultation has been completed. However, it is important to note that the current proposals would mean a broadly similar number of roles in the new structure.

The University is extremely disappointed that local representatives of UCU have chosen to completely ignore the constructive way in which the negotiations leading the current consultation have been conducted with local and full time union officials, and acted in a way that is intended to cause unnecessary distress to valued colleagues at such a sensitive time of the year.”

As the row between the University and Unions continued into the New Year, a member of staff spoke anonymously to The Courier:

“The University is being disingenuous. It was not the UCU who released a document with a proposed structure to staff on the 11th December. The finished document is a poorly written and inaccurate document written without any consideration or apparent knowledge of the current support staff roles. 19 people will be affected, concerns have also been raised about consultation with both institute managers and the unions, and staff are distressed. It does not bode well for the long term viability of the University.”

This is not the first time that UCU and Aberystwyth University have been embroiled in a war of words, with the union claiming in July that the University was being run “as a dictatorship.” These claims were dismissed by University president Sir Emyr Jones Parry who said: “I don’t believe the views set out are representative and I don’t recognise the picture”.

The consultation period will end on 28th February.