Tuesday, July 14, 2009

London Met University Strike

Today I went to the picket line in Whitechapel to support UNISON members of London Metropolitan University and their UCU lecturer colleagues who are on strike today over the threat of hundreds of compulsory redundancies.

The sad sorry tale of utter financial incompetency and impropriety (or even worse) by some senior managers in the past has resulted in the funding council HEFCE trying to reclaim millions of pounds of grants. The arguments actually put forward by the University to justify sacking people and “outsource” services to save money seem pretty desperate and frankly daft.

It makes you wonder (despair?) about the governance arrangements for the University. Who is responsible for the mess? Why was this allowed to happen? What is being done to make sure this will never, ever, happen again? (Or at another university or college)?

As far as I can see there is still open warfare between London Mets management and the Funding Council. How is this going to help things now and in the future? They are both responsible for this chaos and should deal with the problem without sacking loads of staff or getting rid of students.

There is a wider question about the Boards of governors, trustees, commissioners or whatever, of our traditional British public institutions. Do the so-called “great and the good” of our society who tend to populate these boards have the necessary skills, life experiences and even gumption to challenge the day to day management and give proper strategic guidance and oversight?

On the present day evidence - I think not.

It is a pity that some minor management stooges have tried to wreak the day by trying to score sectarian points and attacking the union. But I suppose that like rubbish management this is something we just have to deal with.

(Picture of UNISON branch secretory Alan Pike, a super picket and UNISON regional organiser, Harry Lister, behind a banner asking the Minister, David Lammy, for the enquiry he promised into London Met finances)
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