|UCU members at the University of Manchester are today being balloted for strike action after managers were accused of ignoring agreed procedures and pushing staff into redundancy.
The row was originally sparked in April when the university said all staff who had been on its redeployment register for a period of three months or more would face redundancy. The move was a dramatic departure from the university’s policy of allowing staff to remain on the register until redeployed in a new role without fear of redundancy.
UCU has accused university managers of riding roughshod over agreed procedures, because the redeployment policy was in the process of being revised. Instead of waiting for that process to be completed, university managers simply went ahead and issued 37 at risk of redundancy notices.
The University of Manchester had previously prided itself on a policy of avoiding compulsory redundancies and promoting good industrial relations with trade unions. Former vice-chancellor Sir Alan Gilbert said that compulsory redundancies should be limited to extreme cases of professional misconduct, negligence or incompetence and had no relevance in a collegial community such as Manchester.
However, problems at the institution got worse in July when UCU was given just 40 minutes’ notice that 219 staff working in IT were to be given notice of potential compulsory redundancy. Talks to resolve the dispute with conciliatory service ACAS failed and the union says that it now has little alternative but to ballot members for industrial action.
UCU regional official Martyn Moss, said:”‘Out of the blue, 37 people who thought they were safely on the books of the university suddenly faced a redundancy process. The university ignored its own rules, when it shut down discussions with the trade unions and dramatically shifted the goalposts for these 37 staff.
“To make matters worse another 219 staff are also at risk of losing their jobs. Despite our best efforts to try and resolve these problems over the past six months, we now feel we have no alternative but to ballot for industrial action. Notwithstanding this, we remain committed to more talks to resolve this dispute and would welcome the further support of ACAS in doing so.’