Wednesday, 29 January 2014

UCLan Strikes

UCLan Strikes: Staff to ballot on Local action over redundancies and regrading.

Staff in Higher Education have recently been taking part in a national dispute through a series of one-day and now two-hour strikes as well as working to contract after the 1% increase offered by the employers. This is again below inflation and means that they have effectively suffered a 13% decrease in real terms over the last five years. To make matters worse it emerged that Vice Chancellors have, on average, awarded themselves in excess of 8% increases in their salary.

At the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) there has also been an ongoing local dispute after the university announced a wave of redundancies and has tried to introduce new contracts. Anger has been fuelled by the fact that the university announced huge profits and links have been made between UCLan’s drive to cut costs and the attempt to privatise it earlier last year.

The management’s approach has been to bully and intimidate staff into accepting changes culminating in the announcement that a full day’s pay will be docked from anyone taking part in the two-hour strikes including hourly paid lecturers even if their lectures fall outside the strike period.

But as the staff prepare for a local ballot more questions have emerged over the money spent on overseas campuses that have attracted criticism from the UN, Amnesty International and the unions. 

A proposed campus in Thailand was dropped after it is claimed that there was a ‘ransom strip’ around the land meaning millions of pounds were wasted. Another proposed campus in Sri Lanka has come under fire from human rights activists given the record of the government there.

UCLan are attempting to drive through compulsory redundancies without even pretending to go through the normal procedures. They are also attempting to re-write contracts so the work presently done by Principal Lecturers will be done by Senior Lecturers (at a lower rate of pay) and so on down the scales with the introduction of ‘Associate Lecturers’ to take on the bulk of the teaching.

In reality the staff are being asked to pay for the overseas investment fiascos by the senior management team at UCLan headed by its CEO Macolm McVicar, the ex VC, who manipulated himself into a position so that he is in effect the present VC’s manager. 

A FOI request has revealed that the brief given to the Deans was not just to cut costs but a complete reconfiguration of their schools disregarding any national negotiated agreements over grading structures and role profiles. 

There is murky water still to be stirred up and the calls for UCLan to come clean about their overseas projects and open them up to proper public scrutiny and regulation have so far been ignored.

Late news: The UCU will be coming out in support of UNISON’s one day strike as well as their next 2hr stoppage. This can only be a good thing as there is a need for unity at a grass roots level at UCLan as the management try divide and rule tactics. A call from the floor at a recent UCU strike meeting to go for an all-out strike and bring the place to a standstill was loudly applauded.

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