University of Westminster management have just offered academic staff a settlement on their framework agreement without the agreement of the UCU union. This means that academic staff are being offered quite large amounts to sign agreements by 26th June that will, in effect, undermine the role of the union...
To quote from a union memo the agreement will:
"allow management to sideline the unions - union recognition must mean that any changes to pay or conditions are agreed. If they do it here they will undoubtedly do it on other issues. This is dangerous at a time when there is a real threat to jobs across the HE sector." "Union members will lose the protection of the union in matters related to this agreement. Management will claim that as they have agreed to non-negotiated terms they will not have to talk to the union about them. This may also weaken the union¹s ability to help in other ways."
It will also lead to "the creation of a two-tier work-force with members who have not signed doing the same work but with different rates of pay and on different pay bands with different London weighting. This is divisive and may well be subject to legal challenge."
The management offer does not include the backdating of pay, which the union claims is the only instance of a UK University that has not back-dated their framework agreement.
Such reactionary tactics may also lead to many students choosing not to go to Westminster, as news of such regressive management gets out through the grapevine. It really seems that management may be shooting itself in the foot.
Messages of support are needed and can be left here as comments.
update July 17th
We now know by managements own admission that the majority of academic staff did not sign up to managements 'offer'.
UCU is being firm in its demand for back-dated pay and a deal that is equivalent in conditions to that achieved in most universities and so it has become a national cause. There are also several other issues on which the Westminster's current management is refusing to negotiate properly with UCU. The general picture is one in which the University management seems determined not to deal with UCU.
A key issue in this campaign is whether the students will back us. A difficult one for many students who may be facing student loans.