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STATEMENT FROM ABERDEEN UCU ON THE PRESS & JOURNAL ARTICLE OF 26 JUNE 2019

Friday 28 June 2019

We also note the recent article in the Press & Journal relating to the leaked report about the student occupation and the subsequent investigation.  The branch has prepared the following statement which has been sent to the P&J:  

“The Aberdeen branch of the University and College Union challenges the content of the leaked report into a student occupation at the University of Aberdeen in March 2018 which formed the basis of an article published in the Press & Journal on 26th June 2019. The leaked report was based on a flawed investigation; its findings lack credibility and it was rejected by the University’s governing body.           

The Aberdeen branch of the University and College Union represents academic and academic-related staff at the University. Several of its members are among those who were and continue to be affected by the student occupation, particularly the unsubstantiated claim that a member was responsible for letting more protestors into the University office.

The Aberdeen branch of the University and College Union therefore calls for a full, independent, open and transparent enquiry into the events of the student occupation in March 2018 and into its ongoing impact on members of the University community. Such an inquiry, conducted by an independent body with the powers to gather all relevant evidence, is necessary in order to establish the facts. Only when the truth is known can the damage done to members of the University community, and to the reputation of the University of Aberdeen, begin to be addressed.”

 

STATEMENT FROM ABERDEEN UCU ON THE SFC INVESTIGATION

Monday 24 June 2019

Aberdeen UCU welcome the Scottish Funding Council’s investigation. This investigation originated in an AUCU motion earlier this year, which called on UCU Scotland to lobby the Scottish government to ensure that its recommendations regarding fair and equitable exit arrangements are implemented across all Higher Education Institutions in Scotland.

Despite announcing his retirement plans in August 2017, Prof. Sir Ian Diamond waited until July 2018, when he actually stepped down from his post and was succeeded by a new Principal, before triggering his 12 month notice period formally, and drawing its associated payment of £282,000. During the intervening period, he had continued to receive his full salary and pension contributions, totalling £312,000.

Other significant costs were incurred at the same time: in August 2017, the then Senior Vice Principal (Prof. Jeremy Kilburn) transferred into an academic role, but with the promise that his generous six-figure salary as SVP would be maintained for the first two years, and a new SVP (Prof. Michael Greaves) was appointed, presumably at a similar salary.

All this occurred in the context of a financial position which the University claimed was so precarious as to necessitate the closure of its internationally renowned Religious Studies department, serious disruption of the University’s high-profile Scandinavian Studies program, and sudden departure of many members of academic staff, in the summer of 2018.

Aberdeen UCU are deeply concerned by the failures of governance involved in these decisions, and by the inappropriate priorities they reflect in a Higher Education Institution. We welcome the expression of the University’s willingness to cooperate with the investigation by Mrs. Esther Roberton, successor to the Senior Governor who oversaw the decisions (Mr. Martin Gilbert), and hope that the University’s response to the investigation’s findings will demonstrate that commitment to good governance and responsible financial dealings which is expected of a public sector employer with charitable status.

 

Ping Pong Poll Results

Thanks to everyone who attended our Ping Pong Poll events this week.  The most voted-for workplace worry was WORKLOAD, followed by PENSIONS, and PAY in close third. There were quite a few comments in the “other” section too and we will put these forward for consideration when we put together the branch action plan for 2019-2020 – we’ll be working on this in August ready for September… In the meantime, here is a list of the topics you raised with us and some sources of relevant information which you may find useful…

Brexit: Find out about UCU's campaign to defend the rights of EU nationals and how you can become involved

Short term contracts and job insecurity: UCU believes that high quality education and fair working conditions depend on contracts that give staff stability and continuity of employment. Casualisation is bad for staff and bad for educationPostgraduate issues: Our caseworkers support PGs with a variety of workplace issues including pay and contracts. Teaching postgrads can join UCU for free for up to 4 years and have full access to our services and benefits.

Disability, Diversity and Discrimination: UCU has put equality at the heart of its activities on behalf of its members. Check out the University’s Equality & Diversity Policy and the policy against discrimination

Promotions: Our caseworkers help members every year with their promotion appeals…

Professional services representation: Have a read of the UCU Academic Related Manifesto

Communication: We are developing a new communication policy for the branch and will be announcing loads of new activities for members – monthly Lunch & Learns, activity groups (walking and cycling), newsletters and more…

Family and other caring responsibilities: The University has a Flexible Working Procedure to help staff work round family and other caring commitments. If you have any difficulties accessing workplace adjustments, our caseworkers may be able to help

 

Workload

Your Aberdeen UCU branch reps have spent months developing a strong position on excessive workloads and the impact this can have on staff, such as stress and burn-out.  See more on the Workload Paper we took to the Joint Negotitiating & Consultative Committee...

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For further information on any matter please contact Susan Melvin - ucu@abdn.ac.uk| 01224 272377

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