UNISON has declared itself ‘disappointed’ and ‘angry’, and has warned that it is ‘considering all options’ after staff at the University of Liverpool were told that if they do not sign the new inferior contracts currently being proposed, they will be dismissed.
The threat came at a meeting for all staff, called by the university’s vice chancellor Sir Howard Newby.
The university has served notice to all its staff to terminate their current contracts by the end of September and replace them with new ones.
These will drastically reduce the wages of hundreds of UNISON members, taking away payments for working overtime, weekends and unsocial hours.
Staff will also be expected to be available to work 365 days of the year if required, for no extra pay.
The university says that it “standardising” current contracts.
But UNISON warns that the move is being used to allow the university to pay all its workforce at the lowest level possible.
Many of the affected staff are low-paid women workers who rely on the current payment system to make ends meet.
The union also says that the university has added pressure to the situation by applying new legislation that reduces statutory consultation to a minimum of 45 days at a time when most staff are not in work because of the summer break.
UNISON regional organiser Maria Moss commented: “We are very angry at the university’s attempts to sack all its staff and force UNISON members to sign new contracts.
“Many of these staff members have worked for the university unstintingly for 20 years or more.
“These proposals will result in a significant cut in wages that 99% of our members – many of whom are low-paid women workers – cannot afford in this current climate.
“We are not satisfied with the explanation for these changes in terms and conditions,” added Ms Moss.
“While we are aware that there are some places where overtime is a cost, this is because staffing has been reduced so much that people have to work overtime to get the job done.
“This is more about making staff work on flat-rate pay, any day of the year they see fit, in order to support plans to expand the use of the university for visitor days etc in the years ahead.
“It is unfortunate that the university have chosen to take this action. Our members have attended mass meetings across Liverpool and registered their opposition to these changes.”
And she warned: “UNISON is currently considering all options and cannot rule out strike action, but we will continue to engage with the employer during this process to try and reach an agreement and avoid strike action as this is a last resort.”