Bitter redundancy dispute escalates as University and Union exchange hostilities

The University of Leicester and their staff’s Union bitter redundancy battle escalates as each side releases a communication attacking the other.

The University of Leicester released a statement on 14 May attacking the staff Union’s call for a global boycott, which was met with derision on social media.

On the same day Leicester UCU released a video where Dr David Harvie, who has been made redundant, defended the staff’s industrial action stating: “The executives have left us no choice; they have declared war on our community.”

The day’s communication marked a rapid inflammation of tensions, as neither side looks prepared to back down.

The statement from the University accused the University and College Union (UCU) of releasing “misinformation and inaccuracies regarding our financial position.”

They continued: “the national UCU press release makes groundless allegations of “catastrophic failures of governance” and that the University “will be destroyed by dismal management”. These smears against the University’s governing body and leadership are wholly unjustified and we call on UCU to publicly retract them.”

This comes amid a fierce backlash against the ongoing cuts, with numerous allegations of bullying and intimidation by management.

Dr Harvie stated: “The dispute we are in is about far more than the jobs of 26 people, around 100 others have left the institution since January, pushed out by these managers.

“Look around you, look at how these executives are tearing apart the fabric of our institution.

Continuing: “Understand how they have treated with disdain the views of staff, students, alumni’s, MPs, and international scholarly communities.

“Understand how they have threatened staff who have criticised their plans, how they have targeted trade unionists. Understand how they have lied to you. Is this the sort of University you wish to work for?”

The University’s statement has received a total of 147 quoted tweets and 161 replies in response so far on their twitter account, which either ridiculed the statement or were hostile.

UCU tweeted: “Many thanks to Leicester’s management for spreading the word about the global boycott. Now cancel the redundancies @NCanagarajah.”

Gareth Brown, who has been handed his redundancy notice, tweeted: “@uniofleicester once again bravely stepping out into the world to amplify its employees’ struggle against redundancies, union busting, and attacks on academic freedom despite struggling with feelings of disappointment.”

The statement continued: “In order to resolve this dispute, we need Leicester UCU to engage and meet with the University’s senior management – something they have currently failed to do.”

Leicester UCU have previously tweeted: “For the record, this is completely untrue.”

The statement highlighted the use of social media, which has gained coverage in the Guardian, after the University threatened to remove Peter Armstrong’s academic title.

It stated: “We have raised concerns about a number of social media posts by Leicester UCU, and their representatives that were considered to be offensive, degrading or racially offensive.

“One image that was considered to be racially offensive was raised with the Regional UCU Office who agreed that it was not considered to be appropriate.”

Nick Hartell received an email saying that he may have broken the Dignity and Respect Policy after naming a specific post title in a tweet, which could be construed as bullying.

He posted the copy of the email on twitter on 28 April with this tweet: “In >3 years and numerous requests, @uniofleicester has refused to listen to any of my complaints of bullying and misconduct amongst senior leadership. The day the consultation process finishes, I get this ….Author hidden to protect their dignity.”

Toby Cray is a second-year journalism student. You can find him on Twitter here

Find Toby’s satirical work here

Image taken by LSM member Ollie Monk @britwithacamera

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