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Open letter from the Vice-Chancellor to staff - 5/12/19

Dear colleague,

You will be aware that the recent strike action over pay, working conditions and pensions has now come to an end and that at the time of writing, no new strike dates have been announced.

However, as we know, industrial action continues in the form of Action Short of a Strike (ASOS).

I know from speaking to staff that we continue to share a joint ambition to protect educational outcomes and support students over the coming weeks.

We all want to help our students progress their studies during this period of strike action and I know that staff always prioritise their students’ education needs.

I am extremely grateful for your continued support of our students. I appreciate how difficult the last eight days have been both for those who have taken part in industrial action and those who have not been on strike.

I understand and share the sense of frustration that there appears to have been little progress on the substantive issues.

We continue to work alongside our union colleagues to work on the areas that we can change.

While this work continues, the key disputes around pay and pensions are national issues that we cannot solve alone and over which I have little control.

What I can do is influence, when and where I can. I can assure you that I am and will always be a strong advocate for staff and students and the University as a whole.  As I have said, I want all parties to continue to try and resolve these issues and avoid further disruptive strike action.

I would like to see a solution that both meets the concerns of staff and ensures the long-term financial stability of the USS pensions scheme without putting the financial stability of the University at risk.

I recognise that staff and students will want the opportunity to raise issues with me and other University colleagues, and that it is difficult to organise events during industrial action.

I recognise that some staff and students might feel uncomfortable crossing picket lines. I therefore plan to organise a meeting for staff and students to raise any issues with me and other members of the University Executive Board (UEB) in January.

More information, locations and times will be sent to staff and students in the New Year.

Finally, as I’ve said in my previous e-mail, we continue to do everything possible to support our students and I am grateful to staff for all their efforts.  For some students there will have been little, if any, disruption but others will have been more affected.

I do hope that we are able to offer all our students reassurance before the Christmas period that we will do everything we can to help.

Colleagues will be aware from my previous e-mails that we have developed a set of Q&As for the intranet which should provide answers to some of the key questions raised about the strike action.

They continue to be updated and can be found here.

Yours sincerely

Colin Riordan