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Lecturers condemn Heriot-Watt redundancy threat

24 March 2009

UCU today condemned the actions of Heriot-Watt University's outgoing principal, Professor Anton Muscatelli, in summoning staff to be warned individually of compulsory redundancy, without union representation, to make room for his ambitious plans for expansion.

The union continues to press the university to avoid redundancies and has not ruled out a legal challenge.

'How can Heriot Watt possibly justify compulsory redundancy when the whole purpose of the dismissals will be to make room for new recruits?'
David Bleiman
UCU Scottish official

David Bleiman, UCU Scottish official, today said, in a message to members: 'It is quite unacceptable, at a time when all employers should be acting prudently to safeguard both financial and human resources, for Heriot Watt to seek compulsory redundancies in order to press ahead with over ambitious plans for expansion which may overstretch the university's resources and saddle the next principal with commitments which may be difficult to sustain.   Why should prospective new employees be attracted to an employer which is showing its willingness to throw some of its existing staff out into the cruellest job market for many decades? What trust could new staff have in such an employer?
 
'The university is legally obliged to consult the unions with a view to avoiding redundancy, not as it views the matter, to consult on progressing compulsory redundancy. Most employers will try to avoid redundancy by such measures as a freeze on new appointments. How can Heriot Watt possibly justify compulsory redundancy when the whole purpose of the dismissals will be to make room for new recruits?
 
'Last week's meetings at which members were called in, without union representation, to be placed at risk of redundancy on an individual basis and contrary to the agreement with the campus unions, is the sort of bullying of individuals which is never acceptable to trades unions.
 
'The university's whole approach to these collective redundancies places the University at risk of a Section 189 claim from campus unions (on failure to consult properly to avoid redundancies). We shall be meeting university representatives as soon as possible to seek agreement on measures to avoid compulsory redundancy.'

Last updated: 11 December 2015

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