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Archive before 2009

25 November 2009 Threat of compulsory redundancy lifted

UCU Press statement 30 November 2009

Negotiators of the University and College Union have fought hard over the past 4 months to force the University of Wolverhampton Executive to back down from their threat to make 250 members of staff compulsorarily redundant. This they have achieved but only at the cost of 150 members of staff who have opted for voluntary redundancy. The numbers includes 11 top professors and departmental heads which says much for the morale of senior managers in the University at this time.

Any elation the Unions felt at the result was tempered by the additional news that the voluntary redundancy programme will continue in certain Schools throughout the academic year to save £1.6million. Precise details of the voluntary redundancies and how future saving will be made, have still not been shared with the unions, which makes it difficult for them to judge the impact in individual Schools/Departments.
However at the same time as cutting jobs the University Executive have embarked on a controversial restructure of the curriculum which will reduce the choice of courses for students and is already placing considerable additional workload on staff. This will be exacerbated by future job losses.
Addressing members at the end of the consultation meeting Loraine Westcott, Chair of the UCU Negotiating Committee said:
‘There doesn’t appear to be a clear plan for the future which must worry us all’.

Newsletter for members – November UCU Newsletter November 2009

Recent press coverage
Express and Star Tuesday Express and Star
Article in the YamYam 30 November 2009

Newsletter for members – UCU Newsletter 25-11-09

Account of University Executive Open Forum held on 4 November 2009 to follow

Newsletter for members – UCU Newsletter September 2009

UCU Press statement 25 September 2009

University academics demand Vice-Chancellor takes public accountability for financial mistake
Angry academics at the University of Wolverhampton have called for the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Caroline Gipps, to take public responsibility for a serious mistake that will lose the University money and threaten up to 250 jobs. The University over-reported the number of students who had completed their studies for the year and now the Higher Education Funding Council is expected to seek a repayment that could run into millions of pounds. The losses to the university’s finances from this mistake, on top of the restrictions on higher education funding that affect all universities, could lead to 10 per cent of jobs being slashed across the university’s sites in Wolverhampton, Walsall and Telford.

At packed meetings of the University and College Union, academics called for the widest possible campaign to oppose redundancies. With youth unemployment rising in the Black Country to the highest levels for a generation, they argued that it was irresponsible to reduce opportunities because of mistakes made by the University Executive. Furious speakers pointed to the way that Executive pay in the university had increased and performance bonuses been paid, even as those in charge seemed to be losing a grip on where the university is going.

UCU, the lecturers’ union, and UNISON, representing administrative, professional, technical and manual staff, are meeting with local MPs to discuss the issue and to make representations to the government about the university’s plight.
Contact: Loraine Westcott, Chair of UCU Negotiating Committee
L.I.Westcott@wlv.ac.uk
Mobile: 07858750280
Or
Pat McCarthy, Chair of UCU Walsall campus branch
P.McCarthy@wlv.ac.uk
Mobile: 07958135937

Recent Media coverage
Wednesday 5 August 2009 – Eurogates (Netherlands education portal) – ‘University to cut one in 11 staff’ –
Wednesday 5 August 2009 – article in Birmingham Post

Tuesday 4 August 2009 – Morning Star report, headlined – Wolverhampton University cuts spark anger
Tuesday 4 August 2009 – see BBC news item quoting Loraine Westcott extensively – for example, “The vice-chancellor is very keen to forge links with industry and move ahead in a very business-like way,” Ms Westcott said. “It doesn’t seem very business-like if they haven’t kept their finger on the finances.”

Monday 3 August 2009 – National UCU press release
Monday 3 August 2009 – Melanie Newman is covering the threat to jobs in the Times Higher

Monday 3 August 2009 – UCU representatives, Loraine Westcott and Pat Mccarthy, are doing an interview for BBC local TV at 2.30pm today and it should featurein their 6.30pm bulletin – you can see the video here
Saturday 1 August – Express and Star report

Wednesday 5 August 2009 – Report from UCU Negotiating Committee representatives to members

UCU and UNISON representatives met with Geoff Hampton, one of the two deputy VCs, Roger Williams, Director of Personnel, Jean Davies, Deputy Head of Personnel and Ashar Ehsan, Director of Marketing and Communications this morning.
The Unions had sent in a list of questions about the deficit and the proposed redundancies in advance. These are ones UCU asked, followed by the answers we got.
Q. Please can we have the document that sets out the size and the nature of the HEFCE clawback?
A. There is no document at present – the figure of £3.5 million is a verbal estimate
Q. What will be the cost of the severance pay for 250 redundancies and how much money will be saved in the short, medium and long term?
A. We cannot tell you in advance, only in retrospect.
Q. Please can we see the University’s balance sheet for this year and the previous 2 years?
A. The previous 2 years are available on the university website
Q. Is the University Executive drawing up a redeployment policy, based if possible on the draft national agreement?
A. Personnel will consider this.
Q. How will the freeze on vacant posts operate?
A. Gary Sproston (the other deputy VC) and Sally Glen (PVC) will be in charge of deciding whether any vacancies will be unfrozen, in full consultation with the unions. Any unfrozen vacancies will be advertised internally.
Q. What alternative cost-cutting measures has the Executive considered?
A. We will get back to you on that.
Q. Will there be a freeze on Executive pay this year?
A. We will get back to you on that.

At a meeting of the UCU Negotiating Committee this lunchtime, it was resolved to
1. Persist in getting answers to our unanswered questions, including submitting a Freedom of Information request on the size and nature of the HEFCE clawback.
2. Get back to Personnel and ask them to check the accuracy of the figures they gave us on the numbers of staff employed by the University. They put on the official redundancy notification form that there are 761 academic and academic-related staff, 1848 professional, technical and administrative staff and 131 senior staff.
3. Ask UCU Head Office to organize a briefing campaign of West Midlands MPs, stressing the damage that 250 redundancies would cause to the staff, to the future of the University and to the local economy and community. According to the BBC yesterday, Wolverhampton is set overtake Hull as the worst city in the UK in terms of unemployment and deprivation. In June 2009, there were 11,321 people claiming jobseekers allowance in Wolverhampton, 7.9 per cent of the city’s population and 4,200 more than the same time last year. (Express & Star 4/8/09).

The UCU press release going out later this afternoon, quotes the UCU Negotiating Committee Chair, Loraine Westcott as saying: “In the view of the lack of financial detail, it seems premature for the University Executive to be seriously considering redundancies as the only means of solving the University’s financial problems. Their strategy will only exacerbate the acknowledged worsening unemployment situation in Wolverhampton in particular and in the West Midlands in general”.

The next meeting of UCU and UNISON with University Executive is on Wednesday 2 September 2009.

Press statement 5 August 2009
University and College Union, University of Wolverhampton
University Executive threatens 250 redundancies – update
At a meeting with representatives of the University Executive today, UCU asked some crucial questions that we would have expected the University Executive to have considered before the announcement last week of 250 redundancies.
The University Executive could not tell us exactly how 250 redundancies would save the University money, nor what alternative cost-cutting measures they had considered. They confirmed that the £3.5 million clawback from the Higher Education Funding Council for England is still an estimate and has not yet been confirmed in writing.
On a more positive note, University Executive said that they would consider drawing up an internal redeployment policy as a way of avoiding redundancies.
UCU will embark on a briefing campaign of West Midlands MPs at the earliest opportunity, stressing the damage that 250 redundancies would cause to the staff, to the future of the University and to the local economy and community.
Loraine Westcott, Chair of the UCU Negotiating Committee said today: “In the view of the lack of financial detail, it seems premature for the University Executive to be seriously considering redundancies as the only means of solving the University’s financial problems. Their strategy will only exacerbate the acknowledged worsening unemployment situation in Wolverhampton in particular and in the West Midlands in general”.
UCU and UNISON are due to meet the University Executive again on Wednesday 2 September 2009.
Contact: Loraine Westcott, Chair of UCU Negotiating Committee
L.I.Westcott@wlv.ac.uk
Mobile: 07858750280
Or
Pat McCarthy, Chair of UCU Walsall campus branch
P.McCarthy@wlv.ac.uk
Mobile: 07958135937

Friday 31 July 2009 – Statement to members from UCU Negotiating Committee representatives
UCU and UNISON representatives were called to a meeting with University Executive this morning, Friday 31 July, and informed that the University Executive intend to solve the current financial problems of the University at the expense of jobs and provision.

University management announced that up to 250 jobs (11% of the total jobs in the University) could be lost through redundancy in the academic year 2009-10. However, they argued that such job losses will not damage the quality of the education we offer!
UCU representatives objected strongly to the University Executive’s plans for redundancies, arguing that such job losses would inevitably damage the services we provide. UCU also objected to the timing of this announcement in the middle of the summer holiday period and to the University Executive’s failure to offer alternative solutions to the financial problems of the University.
UCU representatives are meeting University Executive again on Wednesday 5 August and they will report back to members via email.
Branch meetings to discuss this latest threat to jobs will be called in the second week of September.
The University Executive has sent out this press release and UCU has sent out the press release below.

Press statement 31 July 2009
University and College Union, University of Wolverhampton
UCU and UNISON officers at University of Wolverhampton were called to a meeting with University management today, 31 July 2009. University management declared their intention of solving the University’s current financial problems by making up to 250 staff (11% of the total) across the University redundant in 2009-10.
UCU is opposed to all redundancies and we are determined, now in the current recession and in the future, to protect jobs and opportunities for students and also the services that University staff provide for the local community, local companies and organisations.
After the meeting with University management, the Chair of the UCU Negotiating Committee, Loraine Westcott of the School of Health, said “Instead of attacking jobs and educational opportunities through a programme of redundancies, the University management should be lobbying the government to provide the funds for students from all backgrounds to realise their potential and to contribute to the social and economic regeneration of Wolverhampton and the Black Country, Walsall and Telford. UCU will be joining with other campus unions at Wolverhampton University to launch a public campaign against cuts and redundancies”.
Contact: Loraine Westcott, Chair of UCU Negotiating Committee
L.I.Westcott@wlv.ac.uk
Mobile: 07858750280

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