The trade unions at Glasgow Caledonian met with senior management for their second meeting on Wednesday 16th March to discuss the plans to make 95 staff redundant .
EIS, UCU, UNITE and UNISON were all represented by members from GCU and full time officials apart from UCU who were represented by an official only.
The Senior Management side was larger than the last meeting – Mike Smith and Karen Stanton from the Executive Board attended alongside Jan Hulme, Keith Ross and Stella Bartram. There was also a minute taker from Human Resources present.
Mike Smith and Karen Stanton explained that they had not attended the first meeting because they had not been invited to it by Keith Ross.
The bulk of the meeting was taken up with explaining management’s response to the 4 requests put to them at the previous meeting from the Combined Union Committee.
1) An immediate withdrawal of the threat of 95 compulsory redundancies by ending the statutory consultation period.
2) A suspension of the disputed “policies” imposed by management on staff and full negotiation with the trade unions on them.
3) A withdrawal of the currently advertised £80k (plus bonuses) post
4) The setting up of 3 joint working groups to look at cost savings without making staff redundant
a. GCU London
b. Executive salaries, perks, bonuses and appointment of those earning more than £70K
c. Capital Expenditure on campus
In response to these points Keith Ross spoke on behalf of the Executive who had a “long and considered” debate on the requests. The Executive meeting had only finished a few hours before so they had not had a chance to put it into writing this would be done later (document to be circulated to union members)
1) They were not prepared to withdraw the threat of the 95 job losses. They believed this was a realistic estimate of the situation that the University currently found itself in. Therefore the 90 day notice period was still in place.
2) They were not prepared to withdraw the “policies”. The Executive were of the belief that they were not required to negotiate these policies they were only for consultation. If the trade unions had any concerns they could submit written comments for consideration
3) They were not prepared to withdraw the £80K a year post. This was a “critically important” role that would provide “strategic” leadership in the years ahead. It was realised this would appear strange to staff given that 95 jobs were planned on being cut at the same time as this advert and a job was required to be done by the Executvie to get the “message across” to staff that this was a vital appointment. It was confirmed that Court had not explicitly approved this appointment but they had approved the general strategy of which this appointment in the view of the Executive was part. It was also confirmed that there was not a “recruitment freeze” (one of the options in the imposed avoidance of redundancy policy) in place if the role was seen as critical to the business of the University.
4) On the Joint working groups management agreed to set up 2 groups to share information on GCU London and capital expenditure. The trade unions will provide representatives for these two groups. There was no offer of a group on senior salaries, perks, appointments etc but information will be presented on these figures to trade union representatives
The Unions welcomed the setting up of two groups on GCU London and Capital Expenditure whilst condemning the refusal to move on any of the other requests.
It was revealed that specific structural proposals on losing posts will be issued to staff on the week beginning the 28th March. The trade union representatives formally requested that they were given sight of these proposals as part of the statutory consultation period at the next meeting scheduled for Wednesday 23rd March. Management said this would be considered.
Other points in Discussion
- Following some confusion over his comment s on redeployment of staff as an alternative to compulsory redundancy in the open meetings Keith Ross, Director of Human Resources, sought to make his position clear. He stated that redeployment was an option but given the number of posts the University wanted to lose the reality was “it was a more limited option”. It was “not a realistic expectation” that redeployment could be broadly used as an alternative
- Jan Hulme stated there was no major capital expenditure planned for the University. Explicitly there were no plans to build a swimming pool or a covered hockey pitch, as raised by the Principal at recent meetings with students and staff. There was a Campus Master Plan but essentially this was aspirational and required funding. The main capital expenditure was a 1 million ring fenced amount which was spent each year. She also stated that the problem in seeking savings from capital was that these were one offs and the University needed to deal with “recurrent expenditure” ( mainly staff costs).
- Mike Smith stated that the 7 staff in GCU London felt scared that the Trade Unions at GCU were threatening their jobs by calling for the closure of the campus. It was pointed out that the trade unions had never made this demand but wanted the opening of the books to see how much exactly had been expended on this campus and its value given that 95 jobs are under threat in Glasgow.
- It was accepted by management that much of their financial projections were based on speculation given the political situation with the Scottish elections forthcoming but they believed they were realistic speculations.
- On the current VERS scheme under questioning from trade union representatives it was confirmed that people who previously had applied for VERS and had been unsuccessful and wanted to re-apply would only be considered under the new terms of VERS not the old one and that there were no exceptions to this.
As a courtesy, the Unions have printed the official response by management to our proposals here.