Beware redundancies

With senior management planning another round of compulsory redundancies this academic year, I’d like to urge colleagues to seek independent legal advice if they suspect they may be targeted. Once you have been made redundant it is virtually impossible to gain meaningful redress. Bear in mind that even if you successfully sue the university for unfair dismissal, the absolute most you can gain in compensation is one year’s salary, which is poor compensation for losing your job (unless you can prove discrimination on grounds of race, sex etc., in which case you can win more). It is much better to take action preemptively, before you have been dismissed.

I’d also urge colleagues to use extreme caution when relying on the services of the UCU, as there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that it prioritises its cosy relations with management over and above protecting the interests of its members.

One of the staff members made redundant two years ago applied for legal assistance from the UCU, but it refused to process their application, and the staff member actually had to threaten the UCU with legal action to force it to do so, whereupon the UCU did process the application but refused to support the claim, and gave a dodgy evaluation exaggerating its weaknesses. This staff member was also accompanied to their appeal hearing by a union rep whose job it was to take notes; when the staff member took the university to the employment tribunal, it transpired that the union rep had destroyed the notes, so that the staff member could not use them in their case.

Another staff member who was made redundant was misled by their union rep about deadlines for filing a claim before the employment tribunal, leading them to miss the deadline. Meanwhile, UCU officials were spared redundancy even when their qualifications for retaining employment were weak. It would seem that the UCU and SMT scratch each other’s backs.

The was a similar case at another London university recently, when a disabled staff member was discriminated against and made redundant. They wanted to take the case all the way to the employment tribunal hearing, but made the mistake of relying for legal services on the UCU, which effectively sabotaged it, forcing them to settle.

Again: if you want to guard against redundancy, seek independent legal advice before it happens. Do NOT rely on the UCU. If you do ask the UCU’s opinion and it tells you that you have no case, or your case is weak, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily true.

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Kingston not on strike

This week and some of next the universities are on strike. But not Kingston. The strike is about pay and pensions, specifically the USS scheme which is demanding higher contributions owing to a disputed actuarial decision. While this part of the dispute does not apply to Kingston, except perhaps to a small number of individuals, the pay side of the dispute most certainly does. Union support has never been particularly strong at Kingston. The last figures this blog has seen has a figure of about 50% UCU membership. Previous strikes were poorly supported; only a few stalwarts manned the picket.

Are the staff at Kingston so cowed they cannot even vote in enough numbers to arrest the decline of their pay and conditions? Meanwhile management pay rises above inflation as the academic and ancillary staff’s decline inexorably. The bitter irony of such incompetent individuals being rewarded for the damage they have done to the University must be obvious to all. Yet we cannot fight back, or the majority prefer to leave it to a small number, though will presumably pocket any proceeds from the  industrial action without demur. Management must be rubbing its hands in quiet satisfaction. Dark times indeed.

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Laughing stock

Amazing what you hear in a lift, and KU’s Dear Leader will not be best pleased. According to coffee-break gossip across parts of Uni admin, somebody heard two members of the Senior Leadership Team (who’ll remain nameless for now, to spare their blushes) slagging off Spiersy behind his back and laughing about what he calls his ‘People Impact’ plans. Think about that: that’s two members of the SLT, who often sit with the V.C. in meetings, being nice and loyal to him to his face, then back-stabbing him and ridiculing him in private.

What did they find so amusing? The V.C. has allegedly been boasting to whoever will listen that the ‘refashioning’ of professional and support services will BOTH reduce and enhance the service. He will not listen to any evidence that says otherwise, even though there’s plenty of it. No wonder members of his own team have serious doubts. But they are too gutless to say so. Pathetic, really.

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KU Clerihew 10

Colin Rhodes

As everybody knows

Spent to0 much time without his strides on

Now he’s gone

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Open letter to the Chair of Governors

Dear David Edmonds CBE, Chairman of the Board of Governors

We hope you are sitting comfortably at home, [address withheld] London SW20. (Your address? Steven Spier’s office is leakier than an NHS urine bottle these days.) You may not read this blog, but Steven Spier does, and uses it to fire staff. So perhaps you will read it now? Introductions, then business. You are a public man with many achievements. We are the student customers and staff of your University in business, healthcare, education, sciences at Kingston Hill, Penrhyn Road, Roehampton Vale. We have come together because there is a major problem around the corner. Please help us. Read this letter. Google the contents before you file it away.

Now to business. You know business is about growth. Your work with the NHS and in property development will tell you this. So why is Kingston University shrinking? You know business means profit. Your University is bleeding cash. Students are walking away faster than courses can be closed. Staff payoffs are leaching money at every level. Vacant offices throughout buildings like Kenry House are eating up maintenance costs.

Yes, Kingston is your University. Fast becoming your embarrassment too. Do you remember that quiet chat when Steven Spier told you Julius Weinberg was a ‘car crash’. That must have been about the same time as you were getting into trouble over the Olympic Stadium. Real public trouble.

Now Steven is leading you that way again. Steven likes to offload people causing him problems. He likes to hire people to do his dirty work for him. Steven is about to fool you too in taking the blame for his failings. Look what he did to Colin Rhodes at the art school. Made up some fake news about misconduct just to get him out. Another pay off. At least Rhodes was interviewed for the job. Now we see there is some non-interviewed person who says on her official KU profile and the internet ‘in my paintings there is an ABSURD INVESTMENT, a COMMITTED DOUBT…EXPRESSIONLESS DECLARATION…they FLUCTUATE between a SIMULATION OF MEANINGFUL ACTIVITY and alternate space of understanding.’ She leads something called the ‘Centre for Useless Splendour.’ Do you want Steven to make this absurd investment? Is he too simulating meaningful activity? Whoever employed that acting dean no hoper artist at Knights Park should shift her quick before she breaks another bit of your University. We hear this new acting dean is a relentless bully. Clumsy too. Do you really want to be accountable for someone believing this kind of vacuous rubbish while they do Steven’s bidding? Will Steven’s latest ‘car crash’ summary appointment become your ABSURD INVESTMENT? Or is it time to park Steven, along with his arty exponents of MEANINGFUL ACTIVITY. Steven Spier is not well known, whatever he tells you. Unless you are retiring soon, unless you want to tell Bonnie Greer about your vice-chancellor’s real reasons for recruiting BAME students (they pay fees with no knowledge of University standards), save yourself the infamy of another Olympic Stadium. We will go on to work in the NHS, legal services, business, schools, sciences. Give us a chance. You know news travels fast. Please remove Steven Spier and his no-hoper artist crony from OUR University. Or you will be another of Steven’s car crashes instead of the person who fixes KU. OUR reputations and YOURS rely on it. Can we rely on you?


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You said … we said piss off

You always know when an organisation has already decided to change something – when it announces a staff ‘consultation’. It sounds democratic, of course: ‘look at us – we are consulting our staff – aren’t we kind’. As business lecturers in FBSS will tell you, though, the meaning of the word consultation has been seriously watered down in recent times by a whole host of organisations in business, banking, retail and now – depressingly – the HE sector.

Its got to the point where it has become meaningless, a mere mask to cover real decisions that have already been made. The loss of the KU Nursery underlined this. The recent rolling out of a so-called 46-day consultation on a proposed ‘redesign’ of professional and support services across KU can only mean one thing: more job cuts and further service decline.

Professional and support services have already been chopped right down to the bone in previous ‘redesigns’, which saw a collapse in morale and the departure of really experienced and dedicated staff. Now here we go again – to shave off another £2.6m from KU’s grossly mismanaged budgets.

Here’s some quick first suggestions for the latest ‘consultation’ – the VC should return his recent pay-rise; he should stop making ultra-bland videos which nobody watches; all SLT members should have a pay freeze; no more money should be wasted on regular SLT away-days (with overnight accommodation) at their fave hotel in Great Windsor Park; an immediate freeze on trips by SLT members to Kong Kong and elsewhere should be implemented; no more subsidies to the bottomless pit of the Rose; no more slap-up meals for the Board of Governors at top eating spots; no more dosh put aside to buy up houses in Pen Road. Just these modest proposals should save a huge sum.

Do staff have their own suggestions? Post them here, or send ’em direct to Spiersey. Go on – make his day.


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