Sunday, 3 February 2008

Keele University UCU dispute

Keele University staff and students protesting against redundancy and course closure threats
Senior Management at Keele University have recently proposed to make 38 out of 67 academic staff redundant in the School of Economic and Management Studies (SEMS).

All undergraduate and postgraduate courses, with the exception of part-time MBAs, are to be closed and replaced with a limited range of general business courses run by a new Keele University Business School.

The 38 staff placed on a B-List 'at risk of redundancy', and the 28 deemed to have 'appropriate skills and attributes' and placed on an A-list, were selected before the consultation period commenced. The Vice-Chancellor's Management Committee will make the final decisions on redundancies in February when all staff targeted for 'displacement' will be given one month to agree voluntary severence or early retirement and those failing to do so will face compulsory redundancy on statutory terms.

The proposals constitute a major attack on social science teaching and research. Thus, 10 out of the 12 staff in Human Resource Management/Industrial Relations (HRM/IR), 7 out of 15 who teach business administration and the 7 out of 14 who teach non-business economics have been assessed as having inappropriate skills. Thirteen out of 16 in the Health Planning and Management Group are also at risk.

It is also important to note the failure of the University's senior academic managers to have met with UCU representatives and their refusal to extend the period of consultation. A special meeting of the University Senate (the academic governing body) has been requested but not allowed. There is neither business case nor pedagogic justification for this assult on jobs and subject areas. For example, in the case of IR, which has been particularly targeted, HRM and IR courses have been highly successful for many years and have achieved a considerable reputation. In reality this is a process of 'subject cleansing' being driven by senior management in which the teaching and researching of critical social sciences will be eliminated.

What your branch should do to support Keele UCU

Pledge to give full support to UCU members at Keele in their fight to defend their jobs and protect their subject areas;

Call upon Keele University's senior management to enter meaningful negotiations with local UCU representatives;

Call upon UCU nationally to put National Officers and resources aside to deal with this significant dispute;

Encourage branch members to attend demonstrations called in support of UCU members at Keele;

Back Keele UCU's call for a boycott of Keele University if these threats are not withdrawn;

Pledge to offer financial support to Keele UCU if their current ballot results in them taking industrial action to resist these attacks.

Messages of ProtestSend messages of protest to Vice-Chancellor Professor Janet Finch, the Pro-Chancellor (and Chair of Keele University Council) Ian Dudson and the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, Professor Sue Scott

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