Sunday, 19 April 2009

UCU (and Unison) members at London Met Uni: appeal for support

This email is to update you on the situation UCU (and Unison) members are facing at London Metropolitan University and to ask for your support - please see the end of this email for things we would like you to do ASAP.

As you may know, London Metropolitan University is currently in major financial difficulty following the loss of around £15M/annum from Hefce, with an additional £38M claw-back, as a result of 'over-funding'. Management's response to this is to insist on the loss of 550 FTE staff
(the equivalent of around 800 individual members of staff, 1:4 of the entire workforce!).

We, as per the legislation on the possibility of mass redundancies, have been in formal (Section 188) consultations with management to

a) seek to avoid redundancies, and failing that
b) seek to minimise redundancies.

Unfortunately, management appear to have seen these consultations as merely a legal nicety to be overcome, and as such have in essence failed to accept any of our suggestions re non-staff savings, such as forgoing their own massive PRP bonuses, setting a short-term deficit budget based on our substantial (£30M+) capital receipts, etc, etc...

The situation has now come to a head with management unilaterally, in the middle of talks ostensibly seeking to avoid redundancies, announcing an immediate VR scheme (at 5.30pm on the eve of the Easter vacation!) - with no guarantees that it will either be fully funded, or those rejected will not then be liable to be made compulsorily redundant, and the concurrent
release of detailed department-level 'redundancy plans' outlining exactly where (and in some cases exactly whose) jobs are to be deleted. Hardly a voluntary situation when it is stated your job is directly targeted and if you don't take VR you are likely to end up being made compulsorily redundant with the legal minimum compensation!

We have therefore been left with no choice but to procede to balloting our members for industrial action. We hope that a strong vote for action will persuade management to reverse their current stance. However, if they are still unwilling to do so we will use everything at our disposal to save our members jobs and our university from these wreckers of education.

For more details on our campaign please refer to both our main branch website: and our joint UCU/Unison campaign blog:

What you can do

In the meantime there are a number of things we would like you to do to support our fight:

1. Please send messages of support to us at: We intend to publish these on our website so the more the better!

2. Please send email protests to our acting VC, Bob Aylett: (see suggested draft at the end of this

3. Please ask all your branch members to add their names to the national petition hosted on the main UCU website
( It currently stands at some
2,500 signatures, it would be very good to get this up to around 10,000
over the next week or so.

4. For those based in London we would like to invite you to join us in
march for jobs and education on Saturday 23rd May. Further details
available at:

In solidarity


Mark Campbell
UCU Co-ordinating Committee - London Metropolitan University
UCU National Executive


Dear Acting Vice Chancellor,

We are saddened to learn that London Metropolitan University is in crisis and you intend to make large-scale redundancies which will no doubt make things worse. We understand the crisis is entirely of your own making and not a direct result of the recession.

We gather that the plans for cuts of up 550 full time equivalent posts were approved by your last Vice Chancellor, Brian Roper, who has since resigned without explanation.

We call on you as temporary managers to halt plans to make such damaging cuts to the staff and reverse the policy of aggression towards your unions.

We believe that the untested, controversial changes of the scale that you have outlined - including the outsourcing of IT services, increased workloads for teaching, increasing student to staff ratios, the closure of critical educational facilities such as libraries and entire courses -
these plans are a recipe for disaster and should not be rushed through by an interim management team.

Indeed, we would like to know who exactly will take responsibility for the financial crisis at your institution? We note that, despite leaving, Brian Roper did not take responsibility for the current crisis and we further suggest the current team of interim managers might also shoulder some of
the blame.

We support the calls of Jeremy Corbyn MP for a public enquiry into how this all came about.

Whoever is culpable for the current mess it is certainly not the staff or the students who you currently expect to pay the price. We call on you to halt the current plans to cut jobs and outsource, and to start listening seriously to your staff, who have put forward a whole host
of alternative suggestions for managing the financial situation in the short-term whilst a fully considered recovery plan with maximum staff and student input is constructed, rather than constantly attacking their democratically elected union representatives.

Yours sincerely,

No comments: