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December 1st, 2017:

Local UCU Friday update

It’s been a very busy couple of weeks at Southampton UCU HQ, for obvious reasons.  There is quite a chill about. We might even say, winter is coming.

We would have liked to have updated you on progress made in conversations with senior management, but that is not possible.

On 22 November, representatives from all three campus unions met with the Vice-Chancellor, the Chief Operating Officer, two of the three Directors of HR and the Head of Employee Relations.  We were joined by the Vice-President for Research.  The Vice-Chancellor left the meeting after half an hour.

At this meeting, a set of questions was put to senior management.  We repeated the questions five times, and were refused an answer each time. The Chief Operating Officer then told us that we should put the questions in writing.

This we did, in an email sent on 24 November. Since the information should have been readily to hand, we allowed 48 working hours for a response.  We were sent a holding message on 27 November, but we have not had any further communication from senior management on these issues.

As voted for unanimously at our EJNC on 15 November, we also asked again for the Voluntary Severance Scheme to be opened to all members of staff at the University. We further requested that the deadline for the Voluntary Severance Scheme be extended to 31 March 2018, which would allow staff to consider their positions in the new Faculty and School structure – the full details of which will not be known until mid-February.

Since we have had no response, we thought it would be acceptable to allow our members, if they so wished, to repeat the questions in their own communications with senior management.  You will find the text of the email below.


From: UCU U.
Sent: 24 November 2017 15:59
To: Vice-Chancellor
Cc: Dunn I.; Hollowbread S.C.; Ciarleglio A.; Bradley A.E.E.
Subject: Formal follow up to meeting on 22 November

Dear Sir Christopher

Further to the meeting held on 22 November 2017 with yourself, Ian Dunn and representatives from HR, the purpose of which was to provide “an opportunity for the unions to seek clarity on the proposals regarding the size and shape of the University as set out in the Vice-Chancellor’s All Staff Address on Monday 13 November”, we are formalising our questions about how the areas in which Voluntary Severance has been offered have been determined.  In the meeting, you requested that we write to you to formalise our inquiry.

Could you please provide us with the following for the purposes of collective bargaining:

  1. The minutes of the meetings at which the selection of the six academic areas (Music, English, Chemistry, Law, Social Sciences and Tribology) was decided;
  2. A record of the precise grounds on which the decisions were based for each of the six academic areas (Music, English, Chemistry, Law, Social Sciences and Tribology);
  3. The statistical data to support these decisions for each of the six academic areas;
  4. The date on which the minutes of these meetings were accepted;
  5. Details of the targets set per Faculty and per academic unit, outside of the six academic areas identified, as part of these projects;

We believe that the university should already have the information requested, so we believe that it is reasonable to expect a response to the points raised above by 5pm Tuesday 28 November.

As explained above, UCU is requesting this information for the purposes of collective bargaining.  As we discussed in the meeting with you on Wednesday 22 November, we are also requesting that this information is circulated to staff in each of the six academic areas (Music, English, Chemistry, Law, Social Sciences and Tribology).  As you know, staff in these areas have been told that they have until 14 December 2017 to consider whether they would like to apply for the Voluntary Severance Scheme.  We believe that it is in the interest of these staff members, as well as the interest of University of Southampton, for staff to have all of the relevant information, so that they can make informed decisions about potential applications for Voluntary Severance.

As we mentioned, from feedback at our general meeting on 15 November, our members are concerned at the lack of engagement from University Management with its staff and the lack of transparency surrounding these proposals.  The sharing of the information requested in this letter, would be helpful to reassure our members that the University of Southampton is prepared to engage with openness and transparency about these proposals.

We would also like to re-state our request that the VS Scheme be opened up to all staff, and this was unanimously supported by UCU members at the meeting on 15 November.  In addition, we are requesting that University of Southampton considers extending the deadline for applications to the Voluntary Severance Scheme to 31 March 2018, to allow for decisions to be based on the full disclosure not only of the information requested above but also the detailed structure of the new Faculties.

We look forward to hearing from you with a response to this request, by 5pm on Tuesday 28 November 2017.

Southampton UCU Executive Committee


We hope you find this information, such as it is, useful.