Majority of RUCU Committee rejects proposal

Between 18th September and 9th October Reading UCU members will be balloted on whether they accept the Consultation Group’s Final Proposal. If accepted, the university will implement a three-year pay freeze and pay cuts for all employees earning over c.£18,000 per year, including part-time workers earning that on a pro rata rate.

As the majority of Reading UCU branch committee, we reject this supposedly “Final Proposal” and urge all members of Reading UCU to VOTE AGAINST these unfair and disproportionate measures. These measures are unjustified given the information the University has disclosed to staff, and the position on admissions. They do not rule out future redundancies. Instead they propose inadequate mechanisms that fail to engage with the university’s true financial position or governance.

The supposed “Final Proposal” provided by UoR management is the product of a consultation that has not been conducted in good faith. In the midst of a global pandemic, senior management took the unprecedented step of threatening 500FTE redundancies or rehiring all staff on worse terms and conditions. They have also used flawed financial data as the basis for consultation. As the majority on the committee, whose concerns have been consistently ignored, we continue to be concerned that internal Reading UCU processes have been marked by serious infringements of both local branch rules and democratic process. Reading UCU members have not been represented by a negotiating team elected by branch committee, as per branch rules, and as members of branch committee we have not been meaningfully consulted about the proposal. As such we find the supposed “Final Proposal” to be a weak solution, that exacerbates and papers over problems rather than address them in a meaningful way that ensures that cuts and redundancies aren’t always just around the corner.

Under S188 of the trade union legislation, the University is required to engage in meaningful collective consultation with the recognised trade union. Sheffield UCU for example have insisted that a meaningful negotiation cannot be conducted while members face the threat of fire-and-rehire as the nuclear option if they fail to agree. Through active resistance to poor agreements under coercive terms, their branch has now been successful in ensuring their management rescinds both the threat of redundancies and any cuts to pay and terms and conditions.

If the University of Reading management wishes to demonstrate that it operates in good faith it will continue negotiations based on actual financial data.

As members of Reading UCU branch committee we therefore propose the following course of action:

1.     All RUCU members to VOTE AGAINST accepting the Final Proposal.

2.     Call on UoR management to immediately rescind the s188 letter and remove the threat of redundancies and ‘fire and rehire’.

3.     Elect a RUCU negotiating team in accordance with branch rules.

4.     Call on the University management to reopen meaningful consultation.

Signed by the following members of RUCU branch committee:

Rita Balestrini

Cherilyn Elston

Deepa Govindarajan Driver

Titus Hilberdink

Ellen Owens

John Russell

Chris Ryder