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Joint UCU UNITE GMB meeting about redundancies: The report

G11 at 1.00 was the place to be on Tuesday. It was the time and place when all the campus unions, UNITE, GMB, UCU, and Aston Students Union, met in a large and vociferous turnout to discuss the threat to Aston University jobs and services.

If management wants to know who cares about the University then it should have been there too because the passion and dedication of Aston employees rang out loud and clear. WE KNOW what makes a University succeed: the staff. And the staff should be valued over buildings and strategic pipe dreams built on risky loans that could turn into pipe bombs. That was the message and nobody should doubt our determination to ensure that Astons' primary assets, its staff and students, are protected.

Questions were asked:

Student numbers are rising but support staff are being threatened with dismissal. Why?

We made a surplus last year but now it suddenly has to be much bigger....at the expense of staff. Why?

Services like IELTS and Graduate Advantage are being closed down when the demand for them remains. Why?

Student residences are being privatised and Aston employees transferred to the private company when it is essential Aston remains responsible and in control of student welfare. Why?

Four questions and no good answers. We are told Aston is not downsizing but cuts are being made. That's a fifth 'Why' then.

It's time to make a stand and demand not just answers but actions that show our staff are valued. There is NO reason to force redundancies on people, NO reason to restructure in a timescale that cannot accommodate phased redeployment.

Unless, of course, we are missing something. The University has said there is no cross-campus plan to downsize but with redundancy threats in so many areas, there should surely be an university-wide strategic approach. Cuts in one area have implications for others and they should be considered together, not in isolation. If there is no whole-institution approach, what does it say about delivering a strategic vision? Especially when Aston may be overstretching on loans and developing a new medical school? If the University is culling jobs for property and pipe dreams, then it better be honest and tell us. More than that, it should start looking at the reasons for this sad state of affairs rather than cutting services that mean everyone suffers.

Our requests are simple and reasonable:

(1) tell us the real reasons for the proposed cuts;

(2) at the very least, offer voluntary redundancies instead of forced redundancies and have a phased restructuring;

(3) stop making high-level strategic decisions that threaten livelihoods without proper consultations with the unions.....because consultations mean better decisions for everyone.

On the 16th of June, Council will be meeting. Let's make sure the members hear our requests and feel our concerns so that sense can prevail.

See you outside the Main Building on June 16th, then, as the Council members arrive for lunch. More details shortly.

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