Modern Languages update and industrial action

Modern Languages update and industrial action

Dear colleagues,

I am writing to update you on the consultation on Modern Languages - which concluded last Friday - and on a notification of planned industrial action by the Aberdeen campus union UCU. This action has been called due to the possibility of compulsory redundancies of some staff in Modern Languages.

The University has indicated to the local and Scottish UCU leadership that there is a real possibility that staff savings in Modern Languages/LLMVC will be achieved through voluntary means, following the positive outcome of the consultation on Modern Languages and because a high number of expressions of interest in voluntary severance or enhanced retirement have been received from staff in Modern Languages and across the wider School.

Against this backdrop the University asked UCU not to proceed with industrial action at this time to allow time for the results of the voluntary severance expressions of interest to become clear. The University therefore regrets that UCU has decided to announce this action at this time.

We have been notified that the UCU will be calling on its members to strike on Tuesday 12 March.

On that date UCU is also asking its members to engage in ongoing action short of a strike, which means working to contract, not covering for absent colleagues, not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action, not sharing materials related to lectures or classes cancelled as a result of strike action and not undertaking any voluntary activities.

Further days of strike action have been notified to us as follows:

Thursday 21 March and Friday 22 March

Monday 25 March, Tuesday 26 March and Wednesday 27 March

Modern Languages Consultation

The Steering Group which oversaw the consultation has welcomed the Consultation Response from staff in Modern Languages, which envisages both income growth and streamlining of the delivery of the curriculum. The University believes that the consultation on Modern Languages has resulted in the development of a strong set of proposals for the future of Modern Languages.

The Steering Group has prepared a paper for consideration by the University’s governing body Court next Wednesday (28 February), incorporating the following:

  • Strong indication of confidence that plans for income growth in the Consultation Response offer a realistic prospect of an academically and financially sustainable future for Modern Languages, when coupled with rationalisation of the curriculum and a fall in staffing costs.
  • Recommendations that, in line with the discussion at the December meeting of Court, provision of Modern Languages should continue at the University, with a full range of undergraduate joint honours degree programmes in Modern Languages, Translation & Interpreting, and Gaelic continuing to be offered, alongside taught postgraduate and PhD programmes, and Learn a Language courses open to students across the University.
  • Support for the continuation of research in Modern Languages, ensuring that the curriculum is research led and underpinning planned growth in PhD student recruitment.
  • An indication that a considerable proportion and potentially all the required staff savings in the School will be able to be delivered without the need for compulsory redundancies, given that expressions of interest in voluntary severance from staff in Modern Languages and the wider School are well above the total required staff savings target for the School.

In light of this we call again on UCU not to proceed with industrial action at this time, given the negative impacts it will have on student education and the smooth operation of the University.

We will continue to assess the progress with regard to voluntary severance and whether risk of redundancy notices can be removed for some or all staff in Modern Languages, and will continue to engage in discussions with UCU with a view to reaching a negotiated resolution of the dispute.

I will write again in due course as necessary with a further update regarding arrangements for pay deduction and other matters ahead of the commencement of action, if a resolution of the dispute is not reached before then.

Best wishes,

Karl

Karl Leydecker

Senior Vice-Principal

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