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Keele University Special green issue November1997

The promotion lottery It could be you


Ethical investment and USS
Recent electronic discussions in campusstaff have focused attention on the investment policy of USS, and whether AUT can and should try to exert influence to ensure an ethical approach. For those who missed the electronic exchanges, Peter Fletcher outlines the official position here. If you want to add your weight to the mounting campaign to persuade USS to engage fully in this issue, you will find a means of doing so on page 11.

Is the Promotions Committee infallible? That’s
what we are asked to believe. Despite major revision of the promotion procedures, there is still no appeal against the decision of a body whose work is conducted in strict secrecy. Two major cases AUT dealt with arising from the 1996 promotions round highlighted the weakness at the core of the system, but still the University refuses to grasp this old, deeprooted, but deadly nettle.

GRANTED, the Promotions Committee does a difficult job, but their
treasured and fiercely guarded immunity from accountability not only brings contempt regularly upon them, it colours the general view of the workings of senior management, and even harms the credibility of those successful candidates who have legitimate claim to recognition and reward. All over the University, every year, you hear people discussing the outcome of the promotions round. ‘How did X get through with his/ her record when Y didn’t?’ The general opinion seems to be that the promotions ordeal is at best a lottery in which you stand little chance unless your face fits with the establishment, and even then it can be a question of waiting your turn, or your department’s turn, or working in one of the departments with a particularly assertive head. Despite the hours of wrangling between AUT and Personnel in recent times, and before that with the Registry, the promotions procedure still does not allow for an appeal against a decision of the Committee. We recognise the strenuous and genuine effort the current Personnel team has put into improving the procedure and quantifying criteria to be used in making a case, but this effort has mainly been directed at the candidates and their heads of department. What goes on in the meetings of the Committee is still shrouded in mystery; they have no rules to work by and they have the complete security of never having to explain themselves. If you are treated unfairly by the Promotions Committee, all you can hope to do is embark on the University’s grievance procedure. However, the University will not accept you have a grievance unless you can show that there was a technical breach of the promotions procedure; you can appeal against procedural irregularities, but you cannot appeal against a bad decision, however clear the injustice may be.

With regard to unethical investment, AUT has been making representations to the USS company through its trustees on the Board. The problem is that pension companies are bound by law to make investments solely on the basis of financial return and would risk legal action by any disaffected member of the scheme if they took ethical considerations into account (or so we are advised). Continued p11

Legal helpline 3

Rewards for heads of departments 4 Workload guidelines 5 How much stress can people take? 6 Sharing the pain? Dearing What does AUT do? Gossip column 6 7 9 10

Continued on page 2

(Promotions – continued from page 1)
There are plans to introduce an appeals panel, but so far the signs are that this too will be limited to procedural appeals. This policy is of doubtful legality. The University’s officers are legally responsible to Council, which is the ultimate authority to which grievances over any aspect of University management, which must include promotion, can be taken. However, the University displayed this year, when it was on the verge of having its promotion practices exposed to the scrutiny of Council, a worrying ability to manoeuvre itself out of danger. consideration be given this time. The clear implication being that the original adverse decision was a result of a failure to take all the facts of the case into account, and a proper consideration would have a different result. A similar meeting was offered in the other case too. This had a similar outcome, plus the promise of compensation for the stress that the member had suffered. The University had avoided having its activities examined by Council, and our members and their representatives were left with the clear impression that the Promotions Committee would be obliged to change its mind. The Promotions Committee met to reconsider at the end of September – a full year after the 1996 round began. In both cases it upheld its original decision. In one case it still failed to consult the head of department over references, which was a principal cause of the original grievance. In the other case, when the committee eventually provided a written statement to the applicant, it was, in all important respects, word for word the same as the statement produced the first time round.

What happened last year
Two members approached AUT as a result of their treatment by the Promotions committee in 1996–97. In both cases there were clear procedural problems, and we were able to take the grievance route. Indeed, one case was started simply because the Committee had failed to reach any decision, or communicate at all with the candidate, seven months after the meeting at which a decision should have been made. Investigation of the delay revealed a catalogue of procedural disasters, starting with the head of department submitting to the committee, unaltered, the notes given him to help prepare his supporting statement, and then submitting the case on the grounds of teaching and administration, when the applicant intended the case to be primarily based on research. This was compounded by the committee ignoring five of the candidate’s referees, substituting two of its own, then failing to chase one of these who had still not reported in May the following year. This grievance also suffered a false start, when Stage Two of the grievance procedure – an investigation by an independent senior manager – was in fact conducted by a member of the Promotions Committee. Eventually, the Promotions Committee did reach a decision; it decided not to promote, and the grievance was then continued on the grounds that the case had clearly not been considered properly. This was also the contention in the other case. Both cases were examined by a senior manager at Stage Two, and the procedural irregularities were confirmed, but because no body has the power to overturn the Promotions Committee’s decisions, no actual settlements of the grievances were forthcoming. The grievances therefore proceeded towards Stage Three, in which a tribunal of Council members examines the case. On the eve of the first of these tribunals, a meeting of an ad hoc committee, in which the University was to be represented chiefly by the Director of Personnel, was suddenly offered. At this meeting the University, which had been fighting our member all the way, suddenly changed tack and agreed to ‘settle’ by referring the case back to the Promotions Committee with an explicit recognition that procedural irregularities prejudicial to the outcome had occurred, and instructions that a full and proper

What should be done?
First, AUT will never again be talked into allowing the University off this particular hook. Perhaps the University’s negotiators truly believed the Promotions Committee would reverse its decisions, but we now see that unless there is external pressure to act properly and justly, the Committee will naturally tend to obey the law of bureaucratic inertia and defend its original decision. Second, we will continue to press for a radical rethink of the role of the Promotions Committee. As in many areas of university management, there is an unhealthy and unnecessary tradition of secrecy. What good purpose does secrecy serve? Why, for instance, are candidates not told when their referees are not accepted and others are being substituted? We believe that all the candidate’s referees should be used, whatever the Committee’s opinion of them. If there are to be any additional referees they should be agreed with the candidate, or at the very least, the candidate should know who else is being approached. We see no good reason for references to be confidential. If senior managers and heads of departments can read them, why not the candidate? Personnel thinking eventually caught up with the idea that an appraisal form should be jointly signed by the appraiser and appraisee; what is so different about a promotion reference? Having sight of references would give an unsuccessful candidate useful help in coming to terms with an unfavourable decision, and in understanding what he or she needs to do to become successful. Continued on page 3


Legal helpline
You will recall that the AUT launched a Stress Helpline for its members earlier in the year. There has been an immediate take-up of this service by our members and the feedback has been very positive. As part of the ongoing development of membership benefits, AUT is supplementing that service with another helpline which came on stream for all members in September. The service is a Personal Legal Helpline: Telephone number: 0990 234 500. The Personal Legal Helpline will provide advice on the legal areas listed opposite. The legal service will be available to give advice on legal issues over the phone. There is no limit of the number of calls a member can make and they can speak to lawyers as many times as necessary to try to resolve a problem. The advisers will confirm calls in writing, if requested, and send out copies of booklets and other printed material of a legal nature if necessary. The service runs seven days a week, twentyfour hours per day. Queries relating to employment or contractual issues will continue to be dealt with by local associations, regional officials and head office. This service highlights the further development of benefits of membership to current and future members. It will be of great use to those members who would not otherwise be able to get affordable access to professional legal advice and will be as a direct result of their AUT membership. Further services for members are in the pipeline and these will be introduced throughout the year. Any further suggestions will be of great interest.

accident animals commercial contract consumer credit agreements criminal debt defamation education family law finance holidays immigration

intellectual property investments landlord and tenants licences matrimonial motoring neighbours planning professional services property tax welfare wills local authorities

company law and partnership

This article was extracted from AUT’s Web site:

Promotions continued

It is in the interests of all, including senior management, that there should be a higher body to which individuals can appeal if they believe they have been treated unfairly. The Promotions Committee should operate in the knowledge that they may be called on to explain and justify their decisions to this body and to the candidates. Their decisions must be subject to review, and to reversal when they are shown to be wrong. Checks and balances improve the health of the system. More openness and a genuine right of appeal would increase confidence in the system as a whole, reduce friction overall, and alleviate the stress of applying for promotion.

The ranking system used by the Committee should also be transparent. Why should individuals whose promotions have been declined not understand and have access to the scores? What is there to hide? Either it is a fair and above-board process, or it will remain the source of the suspicion that the Promotions Committee is dominated by University politics and makes judgements more about how much unfairness individuals will tolerate because of their age and potential mobility rather than about merit and career development.

AUT Officers

Rewards for Heads of Department and Deans
Members in academic departments will have seen the consultation paper on heads of departments which was recently circulated, and will have received a letter from AUT asking for views on the University’s proposals. The consultation paper proposed abolishing the allowance which is paid to Deans and to non-professorial Heads of Department during their tenure, and offered instead an additional period of sabbatical leave on completion of a term of office. Departments would be compensated for the additional leave of absence of a member of staff with the sum of £5000, which is the same level of payment as for University research awards.
The University justifies these proposals by arguing that it is necessary to encourage research-active staff to continue to take on the position of Head of Department, and that additional sabbatical leave, together with an understanding that Heads of Department will carry a lighter teaching load, will enable good researchers to carry on with their research activities during a period of office as a Head or Dean. The proposal also presupposes that ‘a better structure of support staff’ will exist in departments. AUT initially responsed to this consultation document by questioning the University’s assumption that adequate support staff exist to assist in adminSince this article was written, the VC’s Committee has decided to withdraw the proposals – but ‘The Committee did agree however that this issue may be revived at any time in the future.’

tee, the current financial rewards enjoy the support of staff. In the three days since the AUT letter was sent to members, we have received 19 replies, all but two of which are either strongly negative or sceptical about the proposals. As far as the proposal for additional sabbatical leave instead of remuneration goes, members argued: ‘I regard the administration’s proposals that nonprofessorial heads of department not be given remuneration as appalling. I personally would not act as head of department unless compensated...’ ‘To give no cash remuneration at all is meanminded and petty... were I ever to contemplate doing the job again...the removal of even the present miserable allowance would dissuade me.’ ‘...ill-advised. They assume that financial recompense is not a motivator and sabbatical leave is. I write as someone who was asked to act as HoD from a position of lecturer. I wouldn’t have done it for no more money. Sabbatical leave is very small compensation for being paid to do a job.’ Some also saw problems for the organisation of the department: one member arged that in small departments it is frequently difficult to organise for sabbatical leave in any case, and thus an entitlement to additional leave would pose difficulties. There was also some concern over the statement that the entitlement to sabbatical leave “would be dependent upon the production of appropriate research plans”: this was seen as vague and providing a let-out clause for the university. Some Heads of Department take sabbaticals during their term of office: do these proposals assume that this will no longer occur? A number of comments were also made about the assumption that good researchers must be encouraged to become Heads of Department. As one former HoD argued, “the job is a management job yet it lacks academic status and carries no career structure,” and while the University argues that it does not want to “slide into a specialist management culture”, to quote the consultation paper, this ex-HoD argues that “it is patently obvious that being a good scholar or researcher does not necessarily make one a good HoD.” This point was made more bluntly by another member who asked “why we are taking our good researchers and

‘Were I ever to contemplate doing the job again...the removal of even the present miserable allowance would dissuade me.’
istrative tasks, and making the point that the staffing targets exercise has meant an increase in workload for all staff, and as such there is in very few departments any assumption that a Head of Department can carry a lighter teaching load. We also questioned the ability of departments to carry an additional period of sabbatical leave under current constraints, even with financial assistance to the tune of £5000. However, the University had told us that these proposals arose as a result of demands from current Heads of Department, although in fact any changes will only apply to new Heads. Therefore AUT consulted with members to determine the level of support for the proposals. We have already noted that there is little support at Faculty level: C-board heads were not impressed, and according to minutes of B-Board Standing Commit-


Academic workload guidelines.
For the past two years we have been regularly raising the problem of workload control in our negotiations with the University. Our proposal that teaching be confined to normal working hours was dismissed out of hand, but we were at least promised guidelines to ensure that workload would be distributed in a fair and open way within departments. These guidelines have now arrived.
They deal only with academic staff, and impose a requirement on departments to allocate all duties, particularly teaching and administration, by a system that is fair, transparent, and flexible enough to take account of personal circumstances such as illness, serious family problems and disabilities; the system must be reviewed annually and must include monitoring of each person’s total workload. The guidelines recognise that a single system would not be appropriate for all departments, so they include three schemes from different departments as examples of what are considered to be best practice. All three schemes are highly quantitative. Weightings are assigned to all teaching and administrative duties, and a weighted sum is obtained for each member of staff; these weights are based on teaching contact hours or the size of an administrative job. In two of the schemes the purpose is to ensure that everyone has approximately the same weighted sum, and hence approximately the same teaching and administration load. In the third scheme there are also ‘points for research’: a single-author book = 1500 points, a grant application = 100 points, a book review = 10 points, etc. (continued from page 4) loading them with admin.” A couple of members also saw the changes as inequitable: both as a diminution of terms and conditions for staff generally, and also as a case of deteriorating conditions for non-professorial staff while at the same time improvement for those on the professorial grade, which is elitist. Some ambiguities were raised: will heads of section be offered these terms? Will people who ‘act up’ as HoD for one semester get any compensation at all? - if not, it was suggested that very few people will be willing to take on the role for short periods. The overall view of many respondents was quite blunt: “this is a lousy idea”, observed one member who summarised the views of a meeting of his departmental colleagues. However, it should be borne in mind that two respondents were positive about the proposals, and three others suggested that Heads should be offered the choice of financial compensation or the additional period of sabbatical leave. The conclusion which the University should draw from this, and from its own consultations on the paper, is that support for these proposals is by no means as clear-cut as management seemed to assume. We suggest that management think again! Clearly the benefit of schemes of this sort is that, by summarising all information into a single number, they bring to light any gross disparities in workload. However, there are many potential drawbacks. The weightings are somewhat arbitrary, and this can easily give rise to disputes and special pleading. Even in the case of teaching, the most easily quantified area of our work, we know that two courses with the same number of contact hours may differ considerably in the real work involved, taking account of preparation, marking and travel time (in the case of off-campus teaching). Moreover, any quantitative scheme cannot possibly include all our activities, and consequently those activities that are not credited are likely to be neglected. Research seems least amenable to this sort of approach: the points system mentioned above is particularly hard to take seriously. We must also take into account the extra administrative work created by these schemes, which exacerbates the very problem it was intended to help solve. On the other hand, we do need some way of collating information on individuals’ duties and comparing total workloads. If duties are allocated in an ad hoc and secretive fashion the impression is liable to arise that some members of the department are tacitly being treated as teaching-only lecturers while others are allowed to get on with their research uninterrupted. So perhaps we need to come up with some alternative approaches. Does your department do things better? Please pass on any ideas and comments to Peter Fletcher (Maths Dept, maa03); we hope to set up a working party to formulate a constructive response to the University.

Peter Fletcher

Wendy Richards


Sharing the pain equally?
We are all now familiar with the impact of the Staffing Targets Exercise; savings of £3 million are to be made by summer 1998. However unpleasant the consequences, University management has at least insisted that the impact of the cuts should, as far as possible, be shared equally between Departments, although AUT has questioned the formula being used by management to produce each department’s share of the funding gap. Even departments who are shown by the formula to be understaffed have not been permitted to recruit. As a result, over the summer members may have been somewhat surprised to notice that a new position of Deputy Director had been created in an administrative department. The advertisement stated, however, that the funding for this position came from ‘external sources’; an enquiry from AUT produced the response that this funding, which will amount to over £100,000 over three years, came from contracts with the West Midlands Regional Health Authority. If you find it difficult to believe that the Health Authority would allocate this amount of money for personnel purposes alone, so did we, and we therefore wrote to the Vice-Chancellor to enquire as to the amount of allocation. The response was brief: the Vice-Chancellor ‘failed to see that details of funding in the contract for nursing and midwifery raises specific concerns for the AUT.’ AUT has no quarrel with the new Deputy Director of Personnel; we wish her well as she commences her new post, as we would any new employee. We simply feel dismayed that the impact of the funding cuts, including redundancies and greatly increased workload, is in the main confined to academic departments while some support departments appear to experience less pain but certainly more gain.

How much stress can people take?
These have been a very difficult couple of years for staff at Keele. Following on from the Government’s funding cuts in higher education, we have had the ‘staffing targets exercise’ which, while made necessary by the funding crisis, created massive anxiety among members of staff fearful for their jobs and their futures. Modern Languages staff in particular have been working under severe stress for the past year. This exercise is not yet over. Now we have individual departmental reviews: currently one department is under threat of ‘restructuring’ and another is facing a performance review; this performance review, which involves examining the contribution of every member of staff to identify those who are deemed to be under-performing, is a new procedure that is likely to be extended to other departments. Such processes are also a significant cause of stress leading to illness. One member of a department about to undergo ‘reconfiguring’ said to AUT that there are 11 Keele employees who ‘got no sleep last night’ after learning of the university’s plans. How much more stress and anxiety does management think people can take and still manage to carry on effectively with their jobs? Management tells us that staff welfare is important, yet they still have a tendency to pursue reviews or restructuring exercises in such a manner as to endanger the health and well-being of staff. Anyone who is under stress for any reason is reminded of the AUT stress helpline on 0990 234 533. The service is free, and calls are charged at the standard national rate.

Wendy Richards

Keele Students Union Labour Club has organised an open meeting in support of

Magnet Workers & Liverpool Dockers
4th December 8pm Arts Centre (top floor of the Union)
Speakers from Magnet Support Group & Mersyside Port Shop Stewards All welcome

Wendy Richards

Special Council on Dearing Report and proposals
26th September 1997.
This Special Council at the Senate House, University of London, was attended by Keele LA delegates Peter Fletcher, Graham Lees, and Angus McKendrick. David Battye was present in his capacity as a Trustee. This was the first meeting of Council since the amalgamation of AUT and AUCL so several new LAs were present from the new university sector. In his opening address, the General Secretary, David Triesman, attempted to clarify the position of AUT Executive with regard to the new Government and to what was widely regarded as the latter’s over-hasty response to the Dearing report. He pointed out that the Dearing report was about much more than the introduction of tuition fees for undergraduate courses. Much of the background work on its (the Government’s) response had been done working with the AUT and other HE unions. Triesman reported a meeting with the Secretary of State, David Blunkett’s office at the TUC Congress, where discussion of the shortfall on funding in HE and how money should be raised for funding HE had, he claimed, influenced the subsequent statement on a later injection of funding, i.e. that money was to be drawn forward from loan income next year. He also pointed out that the composite motion on HE sponsored by the AUT, seconded by NATFHE, and sponsored by IPMS and the Society of Radiographers, which deplored the year-on-year cuts to HE funding, the erosion of staff pay levels, and urged Congress to formulate a coherent response to Dearing, had been carried unanimously by Congress and further that the AUT President, Penny Holloway, had been elected to the TUC General Council. During the meeting with David Blunkett, the Secretary of State had made four major points:

(i) very strong support for Dearing’s arguments concerning access, but not necessarily funded by Government. (ii) on money coming into HE, little or nothing for pay BUT he emphasised that there was NO justification for ANY compulsory redundancies. (iii) funding raised later would go in part to FE as well as HE. (iv) on pay review, he is not appointing a chair at the moment. In fact he was loathe even to discuss the setting up of a PRB before the current PRBs claims had been considered. These have priority. Triesman emphasised that it was government policy that money raised in HE (by tuition fees etc.) will be spent in FE as well. He warned that members should be under no illusion about the government’s priority – FE, FE, FE! Leeds LA asked what the source of the £165 million recently promised was to be. The General Secretary replied that it was to be brought forward as an accounting exercise, i.e. future income from students being brought forward. Former AUT President, Alan Waton, denounced the Dearing Report as an extremely poor and shoddy piece of work, full of inconsistencies. It did however identify the funding gap. Waton pointed out that spending on HE in the UK is well below the average for OECD countries. The order of business was divided into major debates on funding, on the student contribution scheme, on quality and standards, with smaller sections on research, employment practices, Northern Ireland, university governace, campaigning, pay and pay review. The funding debate saw broad unanimity of views over the damage which the government spending targtets will inflict on students’ experience of HE, on the research base, and on conditions of employment for staff. Newcastle pointed up the possible slump in participation rates in areas where there was a cultural hostility to borrowing. The largest debate, naturally, centred on the student contribution scheme. Discussion of the effects of the shift of provision of extra funding for HE to students and their

families, the possible implications for women viz. pay discrimination, career breaks and the repaying of loans, the refusal of either Dearing or the Secretary of State to countenance funding from higher taxation or from industry and commerce, provoked widespread anger among delegates.Keele LA’s motion, proposed by Peter Fletcher, condemning the proposed introduction of tuition fees for university courses and the abolition of the maintenance grant, and asking council to reaffirm its commitment to the principle of free education and proper student maintenance, was carried nem con. as existing policy. There was a lot of acrimonious discussion, provoked by some of the more radical delegates, as to the precise meaning of the ‘education bond’ proposal made by AUT in submission to the Dearing enquiry. The General Secretary repeatedly had to reiterate AUT’s concept that education bonds were an explicit, i.e. mandatory, addition to Corporation Tax. These bonds could be used by corporations to purchase training for their employees; they would be transferable (i.e. tradeable). Council broadly welcomed Dearing’s conclusion that the TQA system should be discontinued, but that staff should be trained in teaching techniques provided that adequate allowance in terms of workload was made. Regarding research, Council pressed for the extra resources identified by Dearing but vigorously opposed any continuation of the present RAE system. The increasing use of short term contracts, now a majority of academic and A/R staff in Universities are being appointed on such contracts, was deplored by Council, which welcomed Dearing’s identification of the trend as detrimental to the quality of activities in the HE sector. The plight of part-time staff in particular was high-lighted. Finally, concerning pay and pay review, Council urged the Executive to continue exerting maximum pressure on government to create a PRB, chaired by a person genuinely independent, as soon as possible. The draft pay claim for 199899 was approved.

Graham Lees

The Keele AUT Year
Each year at the AGM, members of Keele AUT elect officers and committee members to run the Local Association for the coming year, and also authorise the level of the local subscription. But what does the committee actually do for members? Here Wendy Richards, current President, looks back at the events of 1996–97.
The Keele committee has had a very busy year since the AGM of May 1996. Members may remember that around about that time AUT was campaigning nationally against university funding cuts and gearing up for the pay dispute. Locally, profit-related pay had just emerged, and we had heard the first mention of the ‘funding gap’. The activities of the LA committee over the period can therefore be divided into three main, although not exclusive, categories: campaigning, negotiating with management on behalf of all or a section of AUT members, and personal casework. Before the pay dispute, AUT had been campaigning nationally and locally against the Conservative government’s funding cuts in higher education, which over a three-year period would remove from the system the equivalent of funding for three universities. Members may remember the rally outside the Students’ Union on Mayday 1996, arranged in conjunction with all Keele trade unions, NATFHE and the Vice-Chancellor. The new Labour government so far has not indicated that it will restore any of the funding which has been and will be removed from the system, and the next wave of campaigning may well be in opposition to the Government’s proposed imposition of tuition fees and the removal of the remainder of the maintenance grant. Watch this space! One further aspect of our work as AUT representatives, which proved helpful in relation to the pay and funding campaigns, is our participation in the wider trade union movement. At a local level, the committee sends delegates to the local Trades Union Council, and for the last five years a Keele AUT officer has been elected as part of the AUT delegation to the TUC Congress. This participation, and links with other trade unions within and beyond the public sector, is an important part of the communication and support network which is essential to the trade union movement.

Much of the work in this area is still on-going, and may be for some time. Members of the committee have, for instance, been involved, on behalf of the staff of the department, in discussions with management over the future direction of the Modern Languages department. Reports of these discussions have appeared in previous Newsletters.

Earlier in the year, AUT also engaged in consultation and negotiation over the closure of the Electronics department, and resulting from this represented the staff of that department in discussions over their transfer or voluntary departure. AUT is opposed to compulsory redundancies and as campaigns elsewhere have shown, will vigorougly oppose any attempts by universities to make staff redundant. Keele University, however, has a policy of avoiding compulsory redundancies, and officers of AUT have spent many hours over the past year in discussions with management over ways to avoid redundancies as a result of funding cuts. The issue of car parking is another which occupied the Committee’s time earlier this year, and while the University would not back down over charges AUT did manage to secure some concessions, principally in relation to the use of the revenue and the treatment of two-car families. However, negotiations are not always adversarial, and one example of union-management co-operation which has led to improvements in University procedures is that of promotions. Two working parties have been in existence for the past couple of years, on academic and on academic-related promotions criteria and procedures. These working parties

The major campaign was of course the pay dispute, which involved disseminating information, sending delegates to Special Council, liaising with other unions, organising the one-day strike, and communicating the outcome of the ballot on the eventual pay offer. Some information, and photographs, concerning the pay dispute may be found on the LA website. At much the same time the local committee was, in line with national AUT policy, campaigning against the profitrelated pay scheme. Although we were unsuccessful in this campaign, AUT still believes that the notion of a university making a ‘profit’, especially when we are suffering from severe funding cuts, is profoundly distasteful. 8

are still in operation, and are currently modifying the procedures in the light of the 1996 promotions round. After protracted delays, negotiations on the assimilation of staff in Nursing and Midwifery onto university contracts have begun in earnest (two years after they became part of Keele University). We are now close to agreement on the terms under which the lecturers can move onto the academic scale (as the Physiotherapy staff already have), or onto teaching-only academic-related contracts, or remain on their present NHS-style contract if they prefer. The issues here are complex, as some staff are already active in research, some wish to develop their research over a period of years, and some wish to remain purely teachers. Our acceptance of teachingonly contracts here reflects the special transitional circumstances of the Department and is not a precedent for the rest of the University. Finally, there is the regular Joint Negotiating Committee, the forum in which AUT and University management meet three times per year, which provides other opportunities for negotiating and consulting on issues relating to the management of the University. In addition, two members of AUT committee sit on the Equal Opportunities Forum, which discusses ways in which the University can most effectively meet its commitment to be an equal opportunities employer and service provider.

way, and sometimes these incidents lead to personal cases. When members contact AUT for help, in some cases the matter can be dealt with by giving advice as to the course of action which the member can take to resolve the problem. Sometimes this is not sufficient, and AUT can then take up the case either formally or informally. One formal method of resolution involves the member invoking the grievance procedure, in which case an AUT officer will represent the member at hearings under the procedure, and will deal with the correspondence in relation to the case. Alternatively, some cases are dealt with through correspondence and meetings with management, without recourse to the formal procedures. Those of us who have been AUT officers for a number of years have noticed that the number of personal cases has increased significantly in the last three or four years. In the past one or two cases per year was the norm; now there seem to be four or five in progress at any one time. Whether this is an indication of members simply being more prepared to assert their rights, or a symptom of increased workload leading to stress and perhaps bad management as a result is debateable, but cases coming to AUT have included complaints about the promotions procedure, bullying by management or colleagues, irregularities in contracts, and in two lengthy cases, members on fixed-term contracts who believed that the termination of their contracts was unfair. Both members now have permanent contracts. It would obviously be a breach of confidentiality to go into any

details about these cases; suffice to say that in recent months some cases are being settled amicably without resort to lengthy grievance procedures. There is clearly a need for greater training for managers and Heads of Department, many of whom clearly do not understand their responsibilities and duties as managers of people, and occasionally cross the boundaries of what industrial tribunals would consider to be acceptable employment practice.

The Officers of AUT
Members of the AUT committee are hardworking and expend a great deal of their own time on activities to the benefit of Keele AUT members. The Officers, however, take on an even greater commitment, and are the most likely to be involved in activities such as negotiating with management and representing members in personal cases; to say nothing about the lengthy preparation involved for these activities.

As members will know, Malcolm Crook has recently stepped down as President of Keele AUT after filling this position for eight years. Those of us who have been Officers during this time well aware that Malcolm has been an extremely hard-working, dedicated and effective President of the local association, and we are grateful that he was willing to continue in this position for so long. He has now ‘retired’ to become a Head of Department, though we are pleased to report that he has agreed to remain as a committee member. As his successor, I would like to extend the thanks and appreciation of members and Officers of Keele AUT for all of his efforts on our behalf during his years as President.

Personal cases
Regardless of the state of the relations between an employer and a trade union, there will always be occasions on which an individual member of a union feels that he or she has been badly treated in some

Wendy Richards

Gossip column
(Wot – no caption competition?)
Sadly no – suitable pictures being few and far between these days. It must be something to do with the new management style, or the unlamented (and unannounced) demise of Gazette. We had to rely on a snap of our old friend B.Fender, for our last effort, but we cannot keep that up for ever. SPEAKING OF OUR ERSTWHILE VC, did you see the recent circular from USS? It reports that he is now on the Board – as HEFCE director. Don’t worry – your pension fund reserves are as safe in his hands as Keele’s reserves were. Reports that he is recommending the purchase of a football club and a daily newspaper are totally without foundation. If you do come across any pictures with the potential for alternative captions, send them to your overworked editors (see below). Many thanks to the anonymous reader who submitted the cartoon we have printed on this page. We don’t understand it, but we thought it would brighten up an otherwise doom-laden issue, and put it in anyway. IN LOGO PARENTIS? PERHAPS it has something to do with this new logo we hear so much about in campusstaff. Well, If so, we are sorry to add to the knocking of a laudable attempt to update our corporate image. The time has come for this sniping to stop. Most of you campusstaff critics are just living in the past; you seem to think we can look like a real university merely by going back to the Ye Olde Universitye image of the Sneyd crest. Come on – do you want people to think we’re a polytechnic? It’s time to shut up and rally round the corkscrew. YOU MAY NOT KNOW that the ‘Equipped for Life’ motto featured in our so-called cartoon was going to be part of the logo, but was dropped a the last minute. As far as we know, there is no truth in the rumour that it was elbowed because it would be too tempting for students to deface it on the signs (yet to be put up) at main entrances, by changing ‘Equipped’ to ‘Screwed up’. Did it say that in the email VC’s Committee minutes? No – so it didn’t happen. ANOTHER SCURRILOUS RUMOUR going round is that the above sign posts will never actually appear. This

is supposed to have come from an Estates & Buildings Advisory Board meeting, but it is just so ridiculous it cannot possibly be true. The story is that the typeface used in the new logo is too illegible to be allowed on signs visible from the highway; drivers would spend so long trying to read them that they might have crashes. Now, would a highly paid PR consultancy make that kind of mistake? THIS WHOLE LOGO BUSINESS has not been a very auspicious start for our fledgling department of Corporate Communications. The fact that the current hot debate in campusstaff comes more than six months after the launch of the logo must say something about the efficiency of communication within the corporation, so, like the New Labour Government, they are starting from a low point and things can only get better. We wish them well – AUT is all in favour of good communication. UNFOTUNATELY, the corporate image guidelines they sent to heads of departments (that explains why you haven’t seen them) were not exactly a model of efficient communication – requiring several clarifications, amendments, and briefings. If you did see them, you probably noticed that the example letter they included managed to break at least two of the guidelines it was supposed to illustrate, having the logo too close to the top of the page, and the text in a font meant for ‘headings in promotional literature and . . . display advertising’. Oh well, teething troubles are only to be expected. Then, of course, there was the ‘Briefing Summary’ on Senate and

Council meetings, circulated to all members of staff. Even its riveting prose has been criticised – and we have heard at least one senator questioning its accuracy – but the burning question is: was the monochrome reproduction of the coloured logo actually legal? (Too much logo – ed.) They should just put the real Senate and Council minutes in the CWIS. Then we could ignore them in full colour. A FINAL REFLECTION on corporate communication – have you tried looking up the dates of Assemblies in the Calendar? They don’t seem to be there. Now, what’s that all about? GETTING BACK TO UNSUBSTANTIATED RUMOURS, a particularly suspicious one came our way the other day. We heard that security staff had been told to gear up for a blitz on parking, to be implemented when the fee goes up from the current £10 to £100 or £150 next year. Now if that doesn’t sound like a deliberate leak to make us feel relieved when it’s only £50, our name isn’t Peter Mandelson. We are still waiting for the University to tell us what they did with the parking fees last year. How about a bit of corporate communication on that topic? Anyone who has been out and about recently will know what this year’s £10,000 or so has gone on – two post-modernist bicycle racks at the Library. They aren’t under cover, as originally promised, but still a valuable supplement the two little used ones already there. Money well spent!
Lunchtime O’Helix (mine’s a double)

Published by Keele University Association of University Teachers. Printed by Keele Students Union. Editors Joe Andrew (mla08) and David Sherwood (cca18)

USS – ethical investment – continued from page 1.
Nevertheless, AUT is attempting to make use of such leeway as exists. A working party has been set up with the following terms: 'to make proposals to

Council for a policy of ethical investment which the Association would follow and would urge upon members and upon all organisations employing them, funding their work or managing their occupational pension schemes'.

It is obviously highly objectionable that we should all be involuntary investors in BP, Shell and BAT; any proposals on how to extricate ourselves from these entanglements would be gratefully received.

Peter Fletcher

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