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Produced by Belfast Association of University Teachers Issue No 13 December 1998

Contents of issue 1998-13

reddot.gif (924 bytes)The Academic Plan and After

reddot.gif (924 bytes)QUB Accounts

reddot.gif (924 bytes)Convocation Rebels

reddot.gif (924 bytes)Motion to AUT Council

reddot.gif (924 bytes)Support from IFUT

reddot.gif (924 bytes)Health and Safety Representatives

reddot.gif (924 bytes)Bullying

reddot.gif (924 bytes)Job Evaluation for Research staff

reddot.gif (924 bytes)Salary Claim 1999-2000

reddot.gif (924 bytes)Representatives on Public Bodies

Finances and Membership

reddot.gif (924 bytes)Equal Opportunities

reddot.gif (924 bytes)Committee Elections

 


The Academic Plan and After

As part of the ongoing negotiations relating to the implementation of the Academic Plan, AUT had a two hour meeting with Senior Officers on Thursday 10 December. AUT was represented by Renee Prendergast, Richard Jay, Paul Hudson and Brian Everett (Regional Officer). The Senior Officers present were Malcolm Andrew, Brian Hogg, John Town, Bob Smith and Frank Young.

Progress with regard to redeployment and transfer of staff in the closing departments was the first item on the agenda. There had been some slight movement since our previous meeting, but this was much slower than we would have liked. We impressed on the Senior Officers that continuing uncertainty was placing members of staff in these departments in a very stressful situation and urged early clarification of issues relating to the extent of the continuing teaching need in the relevant subject areas. We were promised progress on this early in the New Year.

51 staff made a response to the Second Stage Review, but some of these were raising queries and seeking clarification. Eventually there were just over forty substantive submissions. Some people were considered under more than on options, but there were over twenty applications under option 1. There is no quota for this option, and the criterion is only that set out in the letter. Anyone successful under this option will be off the list and in the same position as a non-targeted academic.

Success under options 2 and 3 may be constrained by the limited demand for the type of work offered, and in a competitive situation the V-C will make the selection. Anyone made an offer under options 2 and 3 will have to decide whether they wish to accept the changes to their conditions of employment. There will be no change in their salary and the University maintains that there will be no change in their tenure. It is intended that staff moving to academically related posts under options 2 and 3 would have the option of using the title honorary lecturer internally and the title lecturer for external purposes.

Most of the applicants will be told the outcome on 18th December, although some results may be delayed in complicated cases or where the referees were late in replying. Anyone unsuccessful in the Second Stage Review will be offered consultation with Bob Smith and the appropriate panel chair.

At our last general meeting, we announced that staff who did not apply for Second Stage Review would be invited to a meeting with Bob Smith. These meetings will now also take place in the New Year, and the purpose of the meeting is "to discuss where they are." Staff attending such a meeting can be accompanied by an AUT representative and if they may request that Sean Fulton be present if they have previously had discussions with him.

In both cases we strongly recommend that anyone attending these consultations should be a accompanied by an AUT representative. (Ring 3090 or an AUT Officer.)

AUT had a number of concerns relating to the financing of the Second Stage Review. We were told that the head of a member’s existing department would be unable to unduly influence the outcome of application under options 2 and 3, even though it might disadvantage the existing department. As we understand it, if a member of staff takes up an academically related post, say in Continuing Education, that members salary is transferred out of their existing department and into Continuing Education. No replacement will be on offer and the ‘old’ department will have to pay appropriate rates for any teaching the person does for it. We are concerned that this could mean less resources for at least some departments and heavier workloads for staff who are supposed to be improving their research.

Due to the problems of joint appointments and of clinical care, there are no proposals for the clinical subjects yet. There may be proposals for the School of Management by Easter. Professor Hogg will present a paper on performance management to the V-C’s Committee in January, but it may several months before any proposals become public.

Paul Hudson and Renee Prendergast


Convocation Rebels

QUB Convocation on 3rd December passed a motion urging the reconsideration of the Academic Plan. It also deplored the demise of departments such as Italian and Geology. Convocation is a body made up of all the Graduates of the University plus the present and retired members of academic staff. The motion will now be reported to Senate at it meeting on 15th December, and it must respond.

Nearly 300 people attended the meeting which was the largest attendance at a Annual Meeting for some years. The Vice-Chancellor addressed the meeting for 20 minutes on his vision for Queen’s. After the formal business there was a debate on the motion for more than two hours in which about 30 people spoke including the Vice-Chancellor. The debate focused on the way that the plan was being implemented and the harm that could be done to teaching and student welfare if it was not revised. Despite last minute speeches by various members of the management the motion was passed by a substantial majority.

The motion debated read: "Convocation most strongly urges a detailed and careful reconsideration of the recent radical restructuring plan (consequent upon the strategic review). Convocation stresses the importance of teaching excellence as well as that of productive research; and it wishes to emphasise the need to acknowledge the contributions of staff who over many years have sustained the academic and administrative life of the University. Convocation deplores threatened demise of entire departments (such as Italian and Geology) to whose members Queen’s students, graduates and postgraduates have been and remain deeply indebted."


Support from IFUT

University staff in the Republic of Ireland are closely following what is happening in Queen’s since they fear that is a taste of things to come for them. Our Irish counterparts, the Irish Federation of University Teachers, have sent us a motion of support, and we will be keeping them briefed on developments.

Paul Hudson


Bullying

One problem that appears to be connected to the uncertainty and stress of recent months is an increase in bullying. This is particularly sad, but unfortunately some individuals when unhappy in their own lives vent their anger and frustration on those around them unwilling or unable to defend themselves. In May 1997, following concerns expressed by the trade unions, the University issued guide-lines on such behaviour.

1. The University does not condone bullying at work by it by managers towards employees or employees towards fellow employees. Those who engage in bulling behaviour will be subject to the University’s disciplinary code.

2. It is a management responsibility to do everything reasonably practical to ensure bullying does not occur and that when it does, it is dealt with robustly to make sure there is no recurrence.

What is bullying? It is included in those activities considered as harassment, and falls under the Protection from Harassment (NI) Order 1997. Harassment is not defined in the Order, the test is whether the offender ought to know that their actions would cause harassment. There is no requirement under the order to prove the intention of the harasser to cause distress only that it occurred. Harassment includes a course of conduct (including speech) alarming the person or causing the person distress which must have occurred on at least two occasions.

Does this sound familiar? If you feel you are suffering as a result of the behaviour of another member of staff that can be considered bullying under this criteria you should take action. The University has a Harassment Complaints Procedure and you should contact a Harassment Adviser, your line manager or the AUT at once. You should remember that it is often the case with bullies that the longer their behaviour goes unchallenged the worse their behaviour becomes, so act now.

All staff have a right to be treated with respect and consideration, bullying in any form cannot be accepted within the University.

John Lynch


Salary Claim 1999 - 2000

Because of the delay in the report of the Brett Committee and its recommendations on pay machinery AUT has started the preparation of a salary claim for 1st April 1999. The details will be finalised at AUT Council in January, but here is a summary of key issues.

* The association calls on the employers to acknowledge in full the decline in pay levels of up to 36 percent since 1981 and make an irrevocable commitment to a rapid programme to close that gap permanently, and then keep it closed.

* On the basis of such a firm commitment, the association calls for a first instalment payment of 10 percent in 1999-2000.

* The association calls on the Independent Review of Higher Education Pay and Conditions (the Bett committee) to recommend the establishment of an independent statutory review body for academic and academic-related staff in UK HE. and on employers to confirm that they will urge government to act immediately on that recommendation.

* The association calls for the transfer onto a permanent, non-casual basis not less than 50 percent of staff on fixed-term contracts or employed on a casual part-time basis, as an initial step in 1999-2000.

* The association calls for detailed discussions to agree steps to eliminate gender pay differentials by 2000.

* The association calls for specific funding to advance staff development through a new Employee Development Scheme, which includes payment of appropriate professional subscriptions.

* The association calls for a single rate for London Weighting for all HE professional staff, to be increased annually indexed to public funding for HE.


Finances and Membership

You may have heard stories that AUT has financial troubles. These are not true and they originate from some mischievous comments by the NATFHE Treasurer. It is true that the AUT made an operating loss in the financial year ending 31 August 1998, but this was due to the costs of buying and moving into our new headquarters. The cost of the move was within budget and the loss on renting out our old HQ for the remaining four years of the lease is less than we had budgeted for. We raised our national subscription this year by more than inflation in order to cover this transition, our long-term financial future is good and the new headquarters is proving its worth.

Most trade-unions are losing membership, for instance I hear that NATFHE lost 6.1% last year. At the start of 1997/8 AUT gained nearly 2000 members and £182K assets by the merger of AUCL, and during the year our national membership grew by 259 to reach 41,758. Of that growth, 112 was contributed by Belfast AUT. This was partly due to people joining because of fears of redundancy, but mainly due the efforts of Max Goldstrom in signing up the nurse-lecturers. As those of you who attended the General Meeting will know, on 30 August 1998 Belfast AUT had 864 members and £33,939 assets. These Local Association assets are not included in the national figures, which is why national AUT is even sounder than first appears.


QUB Accounts

In the year up to 31st July 1998 QUB had a surplus of £2.842M on its Income and Expenditure Account. This is 2.1% of turnover and compares with a notional target surplus figure of 3% which HEFCE estimates as being necessary to ensure that sufficient funds are generated for reinvestment in the capital infrastructure etc. (The Government no longer provides any grant for capital needs.)

In £K recent figures are:

 

93/4

94/5

95/6

96/7

97/8

Total Staff Costs

65,409

68,192

71,118

73,285

77,875

Salaries & Wages

53,432

55,725

58,403

60,682

65,041

Total Expenditure

111,311

115,525

119,868

123,188

130,519

Surplus

3,766

1,737

1,701

1,286

2,842

Assets

40,782

44,190

47,732

54,192

62,987

If you look behind the figures and take into consideration the present special circumstances of Queen’s, you find a very health financial picture. In arriving at the surplus QUB included £3.345M for depreciation and two very large provisions — £5.169M for long term maintenance and £2.8M for staff restructuring. Provisions are sums of money set aside to meet future obligations. In some cases, such as where a contract has been signed, these can be precise. In some cases, such as the provision for staff restructuring by early retirement and severance, they can only be estimates. In some cases QUB provides for events that may or may not occur. New accounting standards will become mandatory in preparing the 1998-9 financial statements which will require provisions to be more precise. These may well reveal that QUB has money salted away in unnecessarily large provisions. QUB has a total accumulated provision of £3.811M for staff restructuring, £6.540M for long-term maintenance, and £1.815M for other provisions.

In recent years the University has had a system of devolved financial management with resources allocated to Deans and academic-support managers. They underspent their recurrent funds by £0.891M last financial year and have accumulated a reserve of £4.157M. They have also accumulated £1.605M of equipment money although much of this is committed to orders in the pipeline. Both these sums form part of the £28.355M general reserves of the University.

An interesting sidelight to the accounts is what the highest paid members of staff are getting. These are virtually all administrators or clinical professors, since in practice the non-clinical professorial scale hardly crosses the threshold. (However in 1996/7 the back payment of administrative payments temporarily put some people above the threshold.)

Remuneration excluding employer’s pension contributions but including NHS merit payments

 

93/4

94/5

95/6

96/7

97/8

£50,001 - £60,000

33

37

37

58

40

£60,001 - £70,000

15

16

14

22

25

£70,001 - £80,000

14

10

11

13

8

£80,001 - £90,000

6

6

4

1

7

£90,001 - £100,000

5

3

6

6

5

£100,001 - £110,000

1

3

5

5

3

£110,001 - £120,000

-

-

-

1

3

£120,001 - £130,000

-

-

-

1

2

Total

 

 

 

 

 


Motion to AUT Council

The General Meeting on 11th November approved a motion on lifetime earnings for submission to AUT Council (the policy making conference). You are invited to comment.

"Council notes the reduction in both the average age and level of seniority at retirement of USS members and the implications of these in terms lifetime earnings especially at a time when university salaries compare unfavourably with those of other professions. Council believes that the present organisation of the research assessment exercise takes little account of typical variations in work patterns over the career cycle. It also contributes to the early truncation of careers to the detriment not only of members earnings but also their contribution to university life. Council calls upon Executive to engage urgently in discussions with the CVCP and the Funding Councils with a view to identifying the factors contributing to the shortening of university careers and to developing appropriate remedial action. Council recognises that in the absence of suitable remedial action or a very substantial salary increase, it will become increasingly difficult for universities to recruit the appropriate calibre of staff and a high quality university system will no longer be sustainable."

The General Meeting also nominated Richard Jay to stand in the election for national Vice-President for One Year. This could be the first step on the National Presidential ladder. You will have an opportunity to vote in February and March.


Health and Safety Representatives

Belfast AUT is looking for members to act as health and safety representatives at departmental level and one person to sit on the central university committee. This does not require involvement in other types of AUT work unless the person wishes so. Belfast AUT is becoming increasingly concerned with not only laboratory hazards but also personal safety around the campus. Enquires about acting and concerns about safety should be made to me.

Paul Hudson


Job Evaluation for Research Staff

The introduction of a competence based job evaluation system for research staff is slowly grinding through the system. Following the November letter from the Personnel Office, AUT officers requested a meeting with personnel with a view to discussing the implementation process for the new scheme. The new Director of Human Resources, Bob Smith, who attended the meeting expressed a desire to examine the implications of the scheme before proceeding with implementation. He has promised that this review will be speedy and that it may help to facilitate implementation in the long run. We will keep you posted on developments.

Renee Prendergast


Representatives on Public Bodies

We are often asked by the Northern Ireland Committee of ICTU to put forward names for nomination as trade union representatives on statutory bodies, government working parties, voluntary groups, advisory committees etc. Although they have to pass through several layers of bureaucracy before a final selection is made, we are happy to make nominations. However we are aware that we do not know the full range of talents and interests of our members and we will advertise the positions in our Newsletter if timing permits.

You may have seen the advertisement for Commissioners to serve on the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. You can apply direct or via the AUT. The deadline for applications is 4th January.

The trade union movement is particularly interested in having women members to nominate and needs to know their talents. NIC ICTU has devised a Women’s Talent Bank Questionnaire to record information to assist individual trade unions in making nominations. It is also offering training for women members. Anyone interested in filling up the questionnaire can get a copy from the AUT office (extn 3090).


Equal Opportunities

The AUT now has in place four equal opportunities e-mail networks (with corresponding web sites). To subscribe, members need to access the following :-

  1. Academic Women :Mailbase@ncl.ac.uk "join academic-wo your firstname yourlastname't
  2. Race (blackaut) to join:‘Subscribe blackaut’ to majordomo@bham.ac.uk
    to send mail - e-mail: blackaut@bham.ac.uk
  3. Disability ref:AUTDIS: m.merriman@lancaster.ac.uk
  4. Sexual Orientation (AUT & Proud):AUT-and-proud-request@ucl.ac.uk

Once they have subscribed, members will automatically receive the address for sending mail.

The web site may be accessed on: www.aut.org.uk

We are the only TUC affiliated union to have put such a comprehensive network in place for its members and the national equal opportunities working party is keen to give as much publicity as possible to these networks, particularly in view of the support and information which they provide for members.

Anyone interested in being an AUT representative at the 1999 TUC Lesbian & Gay Conference on 1-2 July should contact me immediately as the closing date is 21 December.


Committee Elections

Although the local Officers and General Members are elected at our AGM in June, the constituency representatives are elected at this time of year by single transferable vote. The constituencies are:

1 The Faculty of Humanities,

2 The Faculty of Legal, Social and Educational Sciences,

3 The Faculty of Science and Agriculture,

4 The Faculty of Engineering,

5 The Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences,

6 Administrative Staff,

7 Library Staff,

8 Research Staff,

9 Computer Staff

If you have any doubts as to which constituency you are in you should consult me.

Each nomination for each constituency shall be made from the membership of that constituency by two members of that constituency and must be accompanied by the written consent of the nominee. It should be sent to me by noon on 6th January 1999. We are particularly anxious for nominations for Humanities, Legal, Social and Educational Sciences, Engineering, Administrative Staff, and Library Staff, since we have vacancies there.

Paul Hudson