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UCU threatens legal action to halt Aberystwyth University job cut plans

12 February 2010 | last updated: 11 December 2015

UCU has today called on members of the Aberystwyth University Council to halt controversial plans to make more than 100 members of staff at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) redundant.

In a letter to council members the union has warned that they will take legal action to force a longer period of consultation with staff.

The University Council, the governing body of the institution, will meet today and is expected to be asked to agree that redundancies at the department will be required and to establish a redundancy committee.
Margaret Phelan, Wales Official for UCU Cymru said: 'UCU doesn't threaten legal action easily.  We would rather work in partnership to save as many jobs as possible. However, the university is placing us in an impossible position and in acting in the way they have they are leaving themselves wide open to legal challenge.
'A week ago they announced redundancies of 70 full-time equivalent members of staff at IBERS and instigated a 30-day consultation period with unions and staff.  What is now clear is that the real job loss figure will be more than 100, meaning that they are required by law to consult for 90 days.
'We have asked for the precise number of individuals that have been affected by the proposals and the university has refused even this simple request.  If the number of individuals that could lose their jobs is less than 100 then why not just come out and say so.
'This isn't an argument about semantics or a legal technicality. It is about the livelihoods of more than 100 people and their families. The reality is that the university has been at best incompetent and at worst is misleading staff, students and the public.
'Members of the Council, as the custodians of good governance at the university, need to act and to halt these plans so that proper and full consultation can take place.  Otherwise UCU will take legal action to protect the jobs of our members. We hope council will listen and that we can all work together to save these jobs.'
The law governing the required period of consultation for redundancies is contained in the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. This requires a 30 day consultation period where an employer is proposing to make redundant at least 20 but less than 100 individuals. Where 100 or more individuals are proposed for redundancy, a period of 90 days consultation is required.