Union busting at University of Westminster?

University of Westminster management have just offered academic staff a settlement on their framework agreement without the agreement of the UCU union. This means that academic staff are being offered quite large amounts to sign agreements by 26th June that will, in effect, undermine the role of the union...

To quote from a union memo the agreement will:

 "allow management to sideline the unions - union recognition must mean that any changes to pay or conditions are agreed. If they do it here they will undoubtedly do it on other issues. This is dangerous at a time when there is a real threat to jobs across the HE sector."
"Union members will lose the protection of the union in matters related to this agreement. Management will claim that as they have agreed to non-negotiated terms they will not have to talk to the union about them. This may also weaken the union¹s ability to help in other ways."

It will also lead to "the creation of a two-tier work-force with members who have not signed doing the same work but with different rates of pay and on different pay bands with different London weighting. This is divisive and may well be subject to legal challenge."
The management offer does not include the backdating of pay, which the union claims is the only instance of a UK University that has not back-dated their framework agreement.

Such reactionary tactics may also lead to many students choosing not to go to Westminster, as news of such regressive management gets out through the grapevine. It really seems that management may be shooting itself in the foot.

Messages of support are needed and can be left here as comments.

update July 17th

We now know by managements own admission that the majority of academic staff did not sign up to managements 'offer'.

UCU is being firm in its demand for back-dated pay and a deal that is equivalent in conditions to that achieved in most universities and so it has become a national cause. There are also several other issues on which the Westminster's current management is refusing to negotiate properly with UCU. The general picture is one in which the University management seems determined not to deal with UCU.

A key issue in this campaign is whether the students will back us. A difficult one for many students who may be facing student loans.

Posted By

catstevens
Jun 13 2009 19:55

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Comments

anarch-pragmatist
Jun 17 2009 14:20

In fairness to Westminster it has been working on this with all of the unions for over 2 years now, and in a long list of the things that the union has wanted the union has received. In fact Westminster implemented most of the changes that benefit staff and were acceptable to the unions before waiting to get all of the agreement signed off - not a great negotiating strategy, but not a sign of an employer trying to shaft the unions.

spiderman
Jun 20 2009 10:13

I'm afraid anarch-pragmatist's comment is a load of balls. The union have only been asking for has been agreed at every other university in england. The union have a ratification panel which agrees centrally each locaal agreement, to make sure they fit with the union's guidelines. The agreements at all other universities have met with this approval. At Westminster, however, the management have proposed a long list of things, which have changed over the FIVE years (not two) negotiations have been going on, which has not met with union approval. So Westminster's management are asking for things that no other university have asked for, and that has been the sole cause of the delay.

The effect of the new imposition of terms is a deliberate attempt, imo, to undermine the staff union.

Steven.
Jul 3 2009 09:15

Yes, it is a clear attempt to undermine collective bargaining. "Pragmatist" fails to recognize this.

catstevens
Jul 18 2009 18:56

update mid July 09

By managements own admission it is now known that the majority of academic staff did not sign up to managements 'offer'.

UCU is being firm in its demand for back-dated pay and a deal that is equivalent in conditions to that achieved in most universities and so it has become a national cause. There are also several other issues on which the Westminster's current management is refusing to negotiate properly with UCU. The general picture is one in which the University management seems determined not to deal with UCU.

A key issue in this campaign is whether the students will back us. A difficult one for many students who may be facing student loans.

Steven.
Jul 19 2009 12:38

Thanks for the update, please keep us informed, and good luck!

catstevens
Jan 22 2010 14:42

Just heard that the management are planning drastic cuts in staff in "those schools that are not increasing their income - in particular, Computing, SSHL and Life Sciences."
Management intend to shave £8.3 million from staffing budget! Does this mean student numbers are to be cut back proportionally... with a further reduction of income and then further staff cuts? Or will already heavy workloads be further increased pushing staff to breaking point?
Or as they have now identified the more complacent staff - those who signed their agreement (see above) and bowed out from union solidarity - they can further weaken the union by sacking active UCU members!