A message from Roger

The UCU general secretary ballot result has now been declared and Sally Hunt has been elected. The union and our members face major and difficult challenges from employers and government in almost every aspect of our working lives. The turnout was just 13.9 per cent which in itself suggests the scale of the challenge the union faces. I wish Sally Hunt very well in meeting those challenges. To meet them successfully will require a clear strategic vision and a determined articulate response which members can have confidence in and ownership of. I will seek to play my part in ensuring that is the case through my continuing role as Head of Equality and Employment Rights Finally I would like to sincerely thank the hundreds of members who sent messages of support and campaigned during the election.

Monday, 5 March 2007

Saturday 3rd March

Dundee: There is no magic answer but those who don’t dare don’t win

I have today received this email from Carlo Morelli and colleagues at Dundee University who have run a vigorous campaign against substantial compulsory redundancies.

I reproduce the statement Carlo, Mona, Paul and colleagues have issued. Congratulations to them – a lesson to us all I think – and we would do well to ponder how and why they achieved what they did.

There is no single magical answer to the challenges we face but one element of a successful response is in a determination to resist and a willingness to mobilise members.

What we need to is to pool our brainpower and experiences to both understand what is happening and how best to respond both to each specific challenge and strategically to the larger scale changes taking place.

“Victory at Dundee University

Dear All,

Dundee University has now withdrawn its threat of compulsory redundancies. On behalf of Dundee UCU we would like to thank the literally hundreds, indeed thousands, of UCU members who have shown their support.

This is a real victory for the union and should not be under-estimated. Dundee UCU President, Secretary and Assistant Secretary again ask members and branches to sign our petition for a national campaign against redundancies and privatisation, a UK-wide demonstration and a special HE conference. The petition can be found at;


As can be read from the last two sentences of the Sustainability Review document below (which are now withdrawn) the University was intending to move to compulsory redundancies if the threats of reduced redundancy pay did not generate enough ‘voluntary’ redundancies. The management also agreed to a joint statement taking a voluntary approach (see below)

There are some key lessons from our dispute that now need to be discussed in our union as a matter of urgency;

1. Dundee UCU launched a determined campaign from the beginning against redundancy threats. We rejected an approach adopted elsewhere to immediately enter into negotiation over redundancy terms.
2. Dundee UCU acted to facilitate student campaigns against cuts and campaigns amongst the cuts by the general public. Further we placed education and access to education alongside defence of our members jobs and rejected an approach which placed its own special interests first.
3. Dundee UCU aimed to maximise participation of members with lobbies of Senate, Court and the University’s public events. Members in turn made clear their support for an approach which combined industrial action and public campaigning. Indeed, we gained support precisely because of the recognition that we would not flinch in our resolve.
4. National support for a ballot on industrial action and clear support from UCU Scotland demonstrated that Dundee’s opposition was not simply locally based. Management knew that they were not simply in conflict with Dundee UCU but the whole union.

At Dundee we still have a long way to go in preventing the cuts being introduced in other ways or by a management which could choose to renege on its agreement. Therefore, the campaign is far from over. Still more importantly, for the union as a whole, is the continued threats of job losses at the Crichton campus of Glasgow University, Strathclyde University etc. and privatisation around the UK. We therefore urge UCU nationally to begin a campaign in defence of higher education as a matter of urgency.

Carlo Morelli (President DUCU)
Mona Clark (Secretary DUCU)
Paul Brown (Assistant Sec. DUCU)

Below is the paragraph from the Sustainability Review which Court will be told now has the last two sentences removed and also the agreed statement.

Appendix 3, Paragraph 4 of the Sustainability Review;
Voluntary severance packages. Judgements will need to be made regarding the cost versus benefit of allowing staff to go under such a scheme and the position not being filled. The unions will need to be consulted over the package to be offered to staff. Whatever kind of package was approved, staff could have the choice as to whether they take this as a lump sum payment, whether they use the money to enhance their pension or a combination of both. Such deals would be agreed on the back of Compromise Agreements. Such a scheme should be time limited, after which time a compulsory redundancy situation would prevail if targets had still not been met. At this point therefore, only statutory redundancy payments would be made.”


March 2nd, 2007

Dundee University and the campus trade unions (AMICUS, UCU and UNISON) met on Friday 2nd March in a consultation meeting which focussed on the avoidance of redundancies and related matters.

It was noted that, while approving the Sustainability Review Report, the University Court had not supported compulsory redundancies and had asked officers to strive to achieve the targets set out in the report by voluntary means.

The consultations are being conducted with a view to reaching agreement.

At this initial consultation meeting, agreement was reached on the avoidance of compulsory redundancy, in the following terms:

The University will work in consultation with the campus unions to achieve any financial savings that impact on staffing by purely voluntary means, with an emphasis on methods which can retain staff in the University. In the unlikely event that the financial savings are not achieved by voluntary means, whether in the staffing budget or elsewhere, the University would bring the whole issue back to the table for further consultation with the unions, with an open mind as to how the situation would be addressed and bearing in mind our mutual intention to avoid compulsory redundancy.

Further consultations will take place on an ongoing basis.

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A trade unionist all his working life. An activist and a proud campaigner, Roger has consistently worked to defend human rights of workers. As the leader of the Equality and Employment Rights team in the newly formed UCU he continues to unite the movement around equality and keep employment rights at the top of the agenda.