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UCU Response to ALL staff email – ‘UCU matters’ sent 29th February 2012 from Vice Chancellor

 The following article sets out  UCU’s position in relation to the Vice Chancellor’s email to all UeL staff that was sent on 29th Feb 2012. The article is split into three main sections: 1) The use of the Portfolio System; 2) academic staff conditions; and 3) the perceived value of academic staff to Uel.

  The VC says that UCU agreed to a pilot of the portfolio system in 2011/12

UCU says NO

  • We have never agreed to the Portfolio system; it is completely incompatible with a workload allocation system that takes into account the range of responsibilities academic staff fulfil.
  • The Portfolio system was imposed in a number of schools this year. Had UCU not intervened, this system ONLY would have been imposed across the university.
  • Some schools have been advised by their Deans that AWAM is not to be used and some Deans are saying AWAM can be used but then ignore it in reality.
  • There is also mounting evidence that undue pressure is being put on staff to accept workloads set by reference to the Portfolio system only; in some cases this is associated with bullying.
  • Although the VC has misrepresented the UCU position on Portfolios, he has now agreed to negotiate a new workload allocation system with the union. We welcome this development, which has come about as a result of collective union pressure after a year of patiently waiting and management thinking that the Portfolio model could be introduced without proper negotiation and consultation.
  • Providing management honour their promise to establish a working group on workload allocation we should have this situation resolved by the end of the academic year and we assure you that UCU representatives will argue forcefully for a model that reflects the varied nature of our responsibilities.


The VC says that ‘there are no amendments being proposed or implemented regarding the terms and conditions of academic staff at this time’.

UCU says NO


  • The VC’s ‘Transformation for Excellence’ policy document includes his Workforce Strategy that proposes to implement a ‘performance management’ programme and performance related pay across the university. The Workforce Strategy has not been agreed with any union at UEL despite these changes.
  • We endorse the need for accountability through existing staff development reviews, mentoring and observation. However, under his ‘performance management’ plan we will be monitored and evaluated with the same methods as colleagues in non-academic areas. The aim is to introduce ‘business focused outcomes’ to the staff review process.
  • If the Workforce Strategy is implemented this will have a major impact on the working conditions of all academic staff, regardless of the VC’s claims to the contrary.


The VC tells us ‘I value all academic staff very highly. You do an excellent job’.

UCU says YES

  • We bear the greatest responsibility for ensuring an excellent and growing research reputation and a consistently positive academic experience for students. We do this despite a woefully mismanaged and under-invested infrastructure.
  • If we are valued so highly, why did his Pro VC, Dusty Amroliwala, recently characterise our workforce as ‘stagnant’ due to low turnover? A more accurate description is loyal, committed and engaged but that idea escaped this Pro VC.


The solidarity and persistence shown by UCU members is important to note here. Join UCU TODAY if you are not already a member

We have good membership density at UEL but if we were even closer to 100% would be even better.




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