On 18 July 2017 the KU UCU branch committee sent this open letter to the Vice-Chancellor Steven Spier:
Dear Steven Spier,
UCU members appreciate that in most cases in Phase 1 of Plan 2020 the university was able to avoid compulsory redundancies. However, we were disappointed that staff in Politics were subjected to the MOR process that forced them to apply and compete for their existing job. We also regret that, despite strong and rationale protests, senior management and HR have chosen not to slow down the ill thought through amalgation of film courses in FASS and FADA. Further we are concerned that KU is advertising for a Senior Lecturer, Year Leader Film: job ref 2942, while current staff are being retired or leaving under the VEP and VS schemes.
Going forward we reiterate our requests to make this cost cutting exercise less divisive and demoralising for staff by offering the following options to avoid the MOR process:
- VS and VER to all academic staff
- Planned moves from full time to part time
- Phased retirement to all staff over 55
- Redeployment options to all staff
We ask that such more humane approaches are adopted as we feel that this will not only be good for staff morale but for the wider reputation of Kingston University within the academic community. Despite having made this request at successive recent JNCC discussions, to date none of these more flexible strategies are being offered.
We note the disparity between staff levels; while Senior Managers have lost jobs through natural wastage or generous resignation packages, lecturers who are not responsible for damaging decisions in recent years , have been subjected to job loss through selective offers of VS/VER or MOR.
Nick Freestone KU UCU branch chair
Valerie Coultas KU UCU branch vice-chair
Rosie McNiece KU UCU branch secretary
KU UCU Branch Committee
Director of Human Resources
11th June 2015
Thank you for your letter of 29th May, UCU’s response follows the headings used in your
1. Collective Dispute
As has been made clear, UCU objects to the proposed points based performance
management scheme in the Faculty of Business and Law, referred to as the Developing and
Demonstrating Academic Excellence (DDAE) proposals; furthermore, UCU objects to the
refusal on the part of Kingston University senior management to enter into negotiation over
That University management do not consider these issues “to amount to a collective dispute”
is beside the point, it is not in the gift of managers to determine what is, or is not, an
acceptable basis for a trade dispute.
The introduction of such proposals would have clear impact upon the work of those whom
UCU represents, including potentially serious consequences for staff who fail to fulfil the
criteria contained within the proposals. As such these issues fall clearly within the scope of
the Kingston University Trades Union Recognition Agreement and within the meaning of a
trade dispute under section 244 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation)
Your statement that “we consider this as a matter for consultation not negotiation”
misunderstands the nature of the dispute and appears to be an attempt to interpose your
interpretation of what might or might not be a basis for collective dispute. It is the refusal to
negotiate and the intended imposition of the DDAE proposals that has prompted the
declaration of a collective dispute by UCU. The dispute can be resolved through the
university management suspending implementation of the DDAE proposals pending
negotiated agreement on such processes, including University wide principles to inform such
performance measurement criteria in any other faculty or department in the university.
2. DDAE Proposal
UCU recognises Faculty management’s desire to achieve “triple crown” accreditation for the
Business School, what is in direct contention are the DDAE proposals themselves, not the
aim of accreditation. We do not see that the requirements for the accreditation extend to the
Contrary to the stated management position, UCU members do not consider the DDAE
proposals to be a positive benefit to staff or their career development. UCU considers the
proposals to constitute a crude attempt to impose poorly developed and inappropriate
performance management targets upon academic staff in the faculty. UCU supports positive
career development, to the benefit of both individual staff and the institution, but the DDAE
proposals will not deliver this and are in fact a very blunt tool to address a complex and
sensitive task. We have been surprised that the proposed scheme appears to enjoy senior
management support, particularly in the light of the Vice Chancellor’s comments regarding
his opposition to crude and mechanistic approaches to the management of academic
You state that “the majority of staff seem to welcome the approach” – this is not the
feedback that UCU has received from staff. As previously stated, UCU has no issue with the
aim of accreditation for the Business School, and is supportive of appropriate career and
professional development, but objects to the current DDAE scheme and seeks negotiated
agreement prior to the introduction of any such proposals.
3. Workload Allocation
We repeat our request for Senior Management Team to explain why the proposed workload
system, at the point of implementation when Prof Julius Weinberg became VC, was not
implemented. The proposal had some issues to iron out, specifically to our knowledge the
need for faculty specific requirements, but had been developed in advanced cooperation in a
project team between UCU representing academic staff and the University management.
The UCU has already contributed considerable resource to specifying an acceptable system.
We reiterate our request for Senior Management to provide reasons for non-implementation
or a review of that proposal.
We repeat our view that failure to implement a fair and transparent, as well as workable,
work allocation system that would obviously provide information inputs to staff appraisals is a
major factor in staff dissatisfaction. We see this as squarely a responsibility of the Senior
Management Team, but one that necessarily has a major bearing on the acceptability of any
Faculty proposal to monitor and rank staff by their outputs.
In conclusion, UCU reiterates the declaration of dispute and calls for a special meeting of the
JNC between management and the UCU, under the Collective Disputes Procedure of the
Kingston University Trades Union Recognition Agreement. UCU also calls for the
suspension of the DDAE proposals in The Faculty of Business & Law under the status quo
clause of the Collective Disputes Procedure.
Dr Andy Higginbottom
Chair KU UCU
Date: Friday 20 March
Venue: JG4006, Penrhyn Road campus
- Phil Miller, investigative journalist at Corporate Watch
- Cleaner, from Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB)
Mitie’s CEO, Kingston graduate Ruby McGregor-Smith, was due to speak at the Kingston University’s Business and Law Faculty on 12 March on the theme of ‘Strategic Challenges for the Outsourcing Industry’. The corporation was already under heavy criticism for persecuting cleaners organising for the London Living Wage and other basic rights. Then Channel 4 News exposed horrendous conditions in Mitie-run detention centres. McGregor-Smith’s lecture has been cancelled, but she is still celebrated on the university’s ‘Wall of Fame’. It is vital that there is a critical debate on Mitie, the outsourcing industry, and what this means for human rights.
The Channel 4 News report reveals:
- Home Office staff admitting that conditions in Harmondsworth are ‘shit’ and that detainees are not allowed cameras to photograph inside the centre because the government ‘don’t want the bad publicity that would entail’
- A guard saying that the new Mitie management has ‘fucked this place up’, making staff work more shifts and get less rest: ‘It’s just gonna break. There’s only so much people can take,’ the guard warns
- Paul Morrison, Mitie’s most senior manager at Harmondsworth, telling detainees that they will be locked inside their cells for two hours longer at night as part of the company’s new contract
- Detainees living in unhygienic conditions with pigeons flying around inside, overflowing drains, rotting food in the kitchen, and bed bugs in their cells
- A detainee suffering injuries from what appear to be epileptic fits
- Mitie guards selling counterfeit clothes to detainees that had been confiscated at customs by the UK Border Force
(Source: Corporate Watch)
Event sponsored by: KU UCU
UCU members at Lambeth College have voted unanimously to take indefinite strike action from Thursday 1 May against new contracts which have been imposed.
On Thursday 1 May, in addition to picket lines at the Brixton and Vauxhall Centres, there will be a Mass Picket at 7am outside the Clapham Centre, 45 Clapham Common Southside (Clapham Common tube station, Northern Line) to which we invite all trade unions.
There will be a solidarity strike rally at 6pm in the evening, at the Karibu Centre, Gresham Road, Brixton, called by Lambeth College UCU, Lambeth College Unison and London Region UCU. We’ll be serving hot food, and there’ll be placard-painting activities for children. All donations welcome!
Lambeth College Unison are currently balloting for strike action and hope to be joining us when their ballot closes.
The new contracts affect new staff, current staff who are promoted or wish to change their fraction and will also affect current hourly-paid staff. In addition management documents state that the new contract of employment may be rolled out across the board for all existing staff.
New contracts include:
- increased working hours
- extended working week
- annual leave cut by 2 weeks
- increased contact hour time by 1 hour
- additional duties for no remuneration
- a link between pay increments and capability
- reduced notice of redundancy
- drastically reduced sick pay
Please send messages of support to Branch Secretary, Mandy Brown, at email@example.com.
- This is the last week of the consultation period over management’s plan to shut down the school of Surveying and Planning
- Management’s conduct in this has been disgraceful – students were not informed until a month before the school was due to close, out of 20 lecturers 15 will lose their jobs
- To top it all off, there are plans to take the C-SCAPE centre, which is home to the department and was FULLY FUNDED BY THE DEPARTMENT ITSELF- £1.3 million was raised to build it
We need to send a clear message to management that we will not stand by while they carve up Kingston University.
Show your support for Surveying and Planning students and staff by joining the rally
JG Courtyard @ 13.00 Thurs 20 March
Last week students (including some from Kingston) protesting against the working conditions of University of London staff and the closure of the University of London Union (ULU) were arrested or violently evicted from peaceful occupations. UoL is seeking to ban all student protests on its campuses for six months.
Please join us at the Cops Off Campus rally this Wednesday 9 December at ULU (Malet St, Bloomsbury) from 2pm.
Staff and students from KU will be meeting at 1pm at the Penrhyn Rd main entrance to make their way to central London for the rally.
What you can do
Join us for leafleting to raise awareness of the strike: meet at Penrhyn Rd main entrance:
- TODAY 12pm
- Monday 2 December 12pm
Join us on the picket lines: don’t worry if you’ve never been on a picket line – there will be plenty of other people there. Details:
- Penrhyn Road Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for a shift:
- Knights Park Contact email@example.com to sign up for a shift:
- Kingston Hill Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for details
VC’s Open Meeting
Our Vice-Chancellor is holding one of his ‘open meetings’ in the Staff Space at Knights Park campus: we want to make sure that we are there to meet him:
- Join us at Knights Park from 11:30
Why we are on strike
The main issue is pay: London lecturers’ salaries have fallen 15% since 2009. There are however many related issues:
- Casualisation: Over 1000 zero-hours contract workers at Kingston
- Job cuts
- Gender inequality
From 1 November, UCU members have been undertaking action short of a strike by working to contract. Comprehensive advice on what you should be doing is available on the UCU website: http://www.ucu.org.uk/workingtocontract.
To help make the action more effective, we are also asking members to:
1. Send this email to our Director of HR Dean Morley (firstname.lastname@example.org) requesting all documents relating to your contractual obligations:
Dear Dean Morley,
As a member of UCU who urges UCEA to reopen meaningful negotiations over the pay award, I am participating in ‘Work to Contract’ action.
To ensure that I meet my contractual obligations I would be grateful if you could forward to me all documents relevant to my employment with the University (e.g. letters of appointment, terms and conditions, contracts, and HERA assessments). As you will understand, it is important that I receive these documents urgently to ensure that I am not in breach of my obligations.
In instances where these documents do not stipulate specific duties I may seek written clarification from my line manager to ensure there is no misunderstanding. I will share this information with UCU who may use it both to advise me during the ‘work to contract’ action and to conduct an equalities audit across UCU members.
Please cc us and you line manager when you do so.
2. Set your email to auto-respond with the following message: ‘PLEASE NOTE: There may be a delay in dealing with your email as I am participating in UCU industrial action by “working to contract” in support of the union’s campaign for fair pay in higher education.’
3. Put the attached poster on your office door.
Remember that the university cannot deduct your pay for working to contract. Deductions of pay for partial performance of your contract might be lawful, depending on the precise circumstances, but would be open to contest.