Published: 15th February, 2021
Leicester Law School UCU members are deeply concerned about the communication from University management on 18 January 2021 indicating that 145 members of staff are at risk of redundancy. We are writing to extend our solidarity and offer colleagues at risk our support. The timing, at the height of a global pandemic and severe economic contraction, is very far from ‘perfect’. We urge immediate cancellation of the programme of compulsory redundancies, not least to avoid unnecessary upheaval and anxiety for the individuals concerned and to ensure that the university is not plunged into a damaging round of industrial action. More broadly, the vibrant and diverse University of Leicester learning and research community would be considerably poorer for the threatened redundancies. We are particularly concerned with the way in which laudable calls to decolonise the curriculum have been co-opted in efforts to justify these damaging measures.
The areas targeted for compulsory redundancy will further exacerbate the challenges currently facing the University. For example, any cuts to student, academic and digital services will increase the workload and pressure on an already overstretched professional services and academic teaching staff. Staff and students in the Law School find the services offered by library staff and Leicester Learning Institute to be invaluable to their research, teaching and professional development. Any such cuts are particularly short-sighted at a time when we are faced with increasing demands in our use of technology-based teaching and learning, and in the number of students presenting with well-being and mental health difficulties.
The threat of compulsory redundancies is having an overall adverse impact on staff morale and is sharply at odds with the University’s communications concerning the importance of well-being and mental health. The use of management speak adds insult to injury. Framing compulsory redundancies as a necessary element for achieving excellence devalues the contribution that affected colleagues have made to the University, casts them as impediments to excellence, and ignores the devastating consequences of such redundancies for the individuals concerned.
The threat of compulsory redundancies must be removed. Measures taken now that undercut support for professional services and academic staff will have long-term implications for the sustainability of the University as a centre of excellence for research and learning. We stand by our colleagues.
Yours in solidarity,
Leicester Law School UCU membership