Calls of hypocrisy as Students Union implements redundancies
Article published: Friday, January 28th 2011
The University of Manchester Students Union (UMSU) has come under fire following its decision to offer many of its long-term staff ‘voluntary’ redundancies at the same time as campaigning against education cuts and job losses at the university.
Staff received letters last Thursday 20th January informing them they could take voluntary redundancy or re-apply for new roles under a new staffing structure. However, at a meeting with Unison yesterday, staff complained that they could not properly consider applying for the new roles, since they had only received draft job descriptions which lacked crucial details such as salary pay.
Individual staff members, who did not wish to be named, expressed anger that there was, “a lack of due process” involving the restructuring and that the changes were being “steam rollered through.” The staff agreed to register a collective grievance through Unison to the Students Union, which will put the process or restructuring on hold for the near future.
There was further ambiguity as to who officially employs the staff at UMSU. The Union is run by fourteen elected students who form the Executive Committee and who act as legal trustees. They are answerable to a further 50 elected students Council members. Certain documents such as the Students Union consultation stipulate that, “All matters concerning staff shall be recorded in separate confidential minutes which shall be the property of Council, and such matter shall be dealt with only by that body.”
However, the Student Union is officially a charity, and the Charities Commission website stipulates that, “The trustees have the ultimate responsibility for running a charity, for its property, finances and the employment of any staff or volunteers.” It also states, “Trustees must ensure that the charity does not breach any of the requirements or rules set out in its governing document.”
The Students Union is currently seeking legal advice on the matter. The Union Council is due to be discussed the issue at a Council meeting next Tuesday 1st February.