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March, 2014:

Losing our Ace

Followers of this blog will know that we don’t usually use this space to write in positive terms about “the management”. Right now in the middle of a tough national dispute about Fair Pay in HE, facing a marking boycott from 28th April, it does feel odd to be writing this. But here goes. 

Malcolm Ace, the University’s Chief Operating Officer, will be leaving the University for the NHS in May.  This news has been met with surprise, shock and  sadness by us here in Southampton UCU.

We will miss Malcolm.  A lot.   

Malcolm has been on the other side of the joint negotiating table from the campus trades unions – first as Chief Finance Officer and then as COO since 2004 . He has represented the University side in arguments about the new pay framework, job evaluations and successive pay claims and he has put the management case for restructurings and redundancies.

We did not always agree with Malcolm. But as one of the negotiators on the union side of the table I always respected him. Malcolm demonstrated thoughtfulness and integrity in his dealings with staff and their trade union representatives. He listened to our arguments.  He worried about doing the right thing and the best thing. He genuinely cared about staff here.

But for Malcolm it was not just talk.  He acted – often quietly – but always motivated by doing the right thing. He visited picket lines to make the University case against strike action but also, memorably last year, stood in the cold and rain to tell staff driving their cars at the picketers that this behaviour was not acceptable. Recently he stepped in to solve a problem, taking ownership of a mistake made by another member of a team, apologising in person to all those affected and making sure the problem was resolved. For me these episodes were examples of true leadership. Just small things, but reflecting deep values that many of us share.

So, don’t hold your breath for another post like this, but I felt this should be put in print.  Malcolm, we will miss you.

Professor Catherine Pope, Southampton UCU Hon Treasurer

Southampton UCU General meeting – 1pm Weds 26 March, room 27/2003

The next UCU General meeting is taking place on Wednesday 26 March from 1.00pm – 2.30pm in room 27/2003.  The main topic of the meeting will be the upcoming marking boycott and we shall be joined by Terry Hoad, UCU HE committee member.  We would encourage you to come along and share your views with us.

Living Wage – the University’s recent statement on SUSSED

Dear colleagues

Earlier today you may have seen a statement issued by the University regarding recent negotiations on the Living Wage at the University of Southampton.

We at UCU, UNISON and Unite wish to make clear that we in no way endorse this statement, and further, we believe that this statement thoroughly misrepresents the facts.  The issue of the Living Wage was first brought to the University’s attention at the Joint Negotiating Committee on 18 October 2013, following an initial FOI request sent by Southampton Living Wage Campaign on 13 August 2013.  A paper was presented on this issue at the JNC which was fully endorsed by all three unions.

At this initial JNC discussion the University responded that they would re-evaluate their position on the Living Wage only after the resolution of the 2013/2014 pay claim.  In the months since, all three unions have consistently and visibly campaigned on the Living Wage and fair pay for the lowest-paid University staff, and it is only after these months of campaigning that the University has put forward this Living Wage supplement.

Throughout this dispute, all three union branches at this University have continued to negotiate on local issues, and at no point have we ceased cooperation due to the current national situation.  The University, in contrast, has repeatedly refused to negotiate formally on local concerns for the duration of the dispute, and has told us that they have no plans to strive to be a true Living Wage Employer.

The current statement on SUSSED does not acknowledge the contribution of unions and their members at this University in bringing this issue to the fore, nor does it accept responsibility for the University’s own refusals to engage on this and other issues for the duration of the current pay dispute.

UCU, UNISON and Unite at the University of Southampton