Wednesday, September 18, 2013

UCU Declare "A Big Victory" at University of Liverpool

The University and College Union's University of Liverpool rep has declared "a big victory" over the University's plans to sack its 2,803 non-academic staff if they refused to accept huge attacks on their working conditions.

In a statement, Martin Ralph announced that:
"In the face of the threat of dismissals without redundancy pay, management wanted to impose contracts that included no defined maximum hours, removal of TOIL [time off in lieu], the right to change contracts without proper negotiation." However, "The UCU has forced management to back down and accept more such as mutual flexibility – that is both sides must agree to changes in flexibility. Another big victory is their agreement to negotiate with the union to a greater extent than before."
In July, I reported how the Unite union - which, along with Unison, collects dues from non-academic staff at the university - had acted to sabotage a demonstration against £300,000 a year Vice Chancellor Howard Newby and guests at a plush city centre dinner. Over the summer, Unite and Unison have refused to call a strike ballot, despite obvious rank and file anger.

In contrast, the UCU ballot showed 62% in favour of strike action, with a historically high turnout. Ralph attributed the University's backtracking to a fear of worker mobilisation:
"They did not want a strike as it would damage their image and it could be an example for the rank and file of Unite and Unison to put pressure on their leadership and go on strike together[...] No doubt the national management and even the government do not want strike action that will increase the idea that it is possible to fight and win by strike action. This victory is an example that should be repeated throughout higher education."
For their part, the University stated that: "Discussions have been constructive, enabling us to implement equal terms and conditions for this group of staff."
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