As BBC North-West has reported this evening, the University of Liverpool – scene of student and teaching staff protests as part of national industrial action to protect pensions – has announced it will be making two hundred and twenty academic staff redundant in a plan to “reshape [its] academic staffing profile”.
What nobody appears to have reported yet is how this decision was reached and announced.
As a UCU (University and College Union) message obtained by the SKWAWKBOX reveals, the University conducted no consultation with unions and called them to a ‘mystery meeting’ at near the end of the day – without any agenda or information about the purpose of the meeting – to inform them of the laughably-termed ‘voluntary’ redundancies:
The university’s action in emailing staff with the announcement while union officials were still in the meeting finding out the news is astonishingly inflammatory.
Jo McNeil, president of the UCU’s University of Liverpool branch, told the SKWAWKBOX:
It’s a very unusual step when we’re in the middle of the most sustained strike in the sector’s history to protect our pensions. This looks, to all intents and purposes, like a retaliatory action.
This will affect more than 220 staff and we normally have positive relations with the university, so it’s highly unusual for them to act in this way. We’re all deeply shocked and surprised.
Dame Janet Beer is the president of the Universities UK employers’ group and has been taking the lead on their side of the pensions dispute. This feels like a punishment for our effective action so far and it’s a very disappointing way to behave when we’ve always worked as positively as possible with the employers. They’re not doing themselves any favours.
A number of universities around the country have been supportive of their staff in the pensions dispute, saying that the planned cuts are not being done in their name.
The University of Liverpool has said the redundancies are voluntary – but they’ve also said they’ll move to section 188 compulsory redundancies if they don’t get the numbers they want.
Our members are already in the middle of a very tough time. This is a lack of respect and heaps misery and pressure on them.
Two hundred and twenty people are a huge percentage of the total academic staff at the university and this is a slap in the face for students who’ve paid to take courses and will inevitably be affected.
A number of UK universities forced staff to take industrial action to try to save their earned pension entitlement from a unilateral action to deprive teaching staff of an average of £10,000 a year in pension payments. The University of Liverpool’s decision and the way in which it is carrying it out heap further disrespect on hard-pressed employees and the students who rely on them and pay hefty university fees for their services.
No university press officer was available this evening for comment.
The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.
If you wish to reblog this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.