Letter to Head of HR regarding Collective Dispute

Dean Morley
Director of Human Resources
Kingston University
11th June 2015
Dear Dean,
Thank you for your letter of 29th May, UCU’s response follows the headings used in your
letter.
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
such proposals.
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)
Act 1992.
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
Law School.
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
workload.
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.
Conclusion
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