Staff at the University of Leeds have announced a three-day strike next week, from Wednesday 11th to Friday 13th October. Many Leeds academics are taking part, in a dispute over employment procedures.
Members of the University and College Union (UCU) argue that management is adding new dismissal policy that would allow employees to be dismissed for ‘Some Other Substantial Reason’ – something that has been nicknamed the ‘Sackers’ Charter.’
The UCU claims this could lead to unfair dismissal, leaving it open to abuse. In an email from the Human Resources director to staff, some cited reasons that could fall under the SORS addition were: “conflict of interest, breakdown in trust and confidence, mistake or ignorance of law, or failure to comply with a legal requirement.”
Members who are striking argue SORS is a threat to academic freedom.
Vicky Blake, president of the Leeds UCU, described the new addition as “an open-ended catch-all power to dismiss staff on the grounds of ‘some other substantial reason.’”
— Leeds University UCU (@leedsucu) October 6, 2017
A spokesperson for the university said that the new policies were a way of improving transparency and openness.
“The university is not introducing any new grounds for dismissal, it is simply modernising the procedures it would follow.
“We are disappointed with the decision to take industrial action, which we genuinely believe is unnecessary.
“We will do everything we can to ensure that students are not adversely affected. Only a small proportion of our staff took part in an equivalent strike earlier this year.”
The strike follows a one-day strike which occurred in June, over the same issue.
The University has stressed that it expects most lectures and classes will proceed as normal and that students should assume that all are taking place unless notified to the contrary by the member of staff concerned or the school.
Any work due to be handed in on the affected days should be submitted as normal and, although their may be minor disruption to services, the majority of facilities are expected to be operating as usual.
If you believe you will be affected, or have any concerns, the university are encouraging you to contact the Student Support Office in your school.
Rabeeah Moeen and Jonny Chard