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The Open University branch of the University and College Union

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Motions passed at General meetings

OU UCU motions passed by the OU Branch of UCU General meeting on 8 March 2017

This meeting believes that well managed change has always been and will always remain fundamental to the Open University’s success. However, this meeting is concerned that the University has recently undertaken too much change too quickly with negative consequences, and is currently vulnerable to risks from further imposed or badly managed change: 

  • student support has already been threatened by the implementation of GTP, and any further dilution of the student-tutor link risks damaging the quality of our students’ education; 
  • valuable expertise and knowledge has already been lost with the closure of the regional centres, and will no longer be available to support students through the unpredictable consequences of further fundamental change; 
  • staff are at breaking point from excessive workloads, constant fire-fighting and change fatigue, and further fundamental redesign may impact their ability to respond; 
  • 77% of staff surveyed have no confidence in the VCE. 
  • re-design may threaten or further delay the much needed new contract for AL staff.

This meeting instructs the OU UCU Executive to take all necessary actions to ensure that the OU Redesign review is sufficiently thorough and well managed to avoid damaging students, staff and the University, and the quality of the education we offer. This should include, but is not restricted to:

  • demanding the protection of staff welfare as a key priority; 
  • demanding the strengthening of the named-tutor-student link, as the fundamental cornerstone of student support; 
  • demanding and negotiating substantial and comprehensive staff consultation to ensure the review recommendations are well-founded and incorporate a thorough assessment of both the opportunities and the threats to the University, based on the full breadth of operational expertise; 
  • demanding and negotiating protection for staff terms and conditions and working conditions, and a clear and unequivocal commitment to a culture of respect and partnership between management and staff at all levels; 
  • demanding that management confirm their commitment to a new AL contract as a key current priority and to avoiding further slippage in its timescale; 
  • demanding complete transparency of the OU Redesign processes and all outcomes as delivered to management; 
  • requesting the detailed brief provided to KPMG for the OU Redesign be made available in full, now, along with the KPMG response to the brief; 
  • requesting details of all current KPMG recommendations to the university from current and recent consultancy processes; 
  • requesting details of all expenditure to KPMG and other consultants currently employed on such "change" projects; 
  • requesting that management agree there will be only one OU Redesign report, and that it will be delivered to management and staff concurrently.

Proposed by: Kate Servant, Bruce Heil on behalf of the UCU branch executive committee
Seconded by: Lesley Kane

OU UCU motions passed by the OU Branch of UCU General meeting on 8 March 2017

Motion 1 - a motion proposed for UCU HE Sector Conference
Covert variable hours contracts
Conference reaffirms the view of 2014 Congress that all contracts that do not guarantee minimum hours or a minimum quantity of paid work are zero hours contracts.

Conference also believes that minimum hours are not "guaranteed" if the contract allows the employer to reduce hours below the minimum without mutual agreement or a redundancy process, and that a minimum must be an ongoing minimum rather than a percentage of the previous year's hours.

Conference resolves that all purported FTE or fractional contracts containing clauses allowing the employer to reduce hours and pay should not be considered fixed FTE contracts, but should be judged against policy, guidance and criteria for variable hours contracts. They should also be considered zero hours contracts if there is no genuinely guaranteed minimum.

Conference asks the HEC to ensure that this is reflected in HE ratification checklists and guidance and make sure it is widely known.

Proposed by: Lesley Kane
Seconded by: Caitlin Adams

OU UCU motions passed by the OU Branch of UCU Annual General meeting on 16 November 2016

Motion 1
This Branch AGM deplores the way that management ignored the advice and warnings of staff regarding the impact of GTP and closure of regional centres.

The branch notes that as a result of the GTP implementation failure that staff throughout the university have had to take on extra workload to resolve problems to the benefit of students.

The branch meeting requests that Council instructs management to not engage in any future changes when Senate has indicated that the changes will result in damage to the student experience and the reputation of the OU.

The Branch further requests that a joint meeting of Senate and Council be called to discuss the recent leadership and policy failures and to agree a way forward for decision making in the institution that will ensure a failure like this does not occur again.
Proposed by: Bruce Heil
Seconded by Judy Ekins

Motion 2
The meeting asks the executive committee to collectively issue a statement about, and carries out a vote of no confidence in the current VCE, in relation to ongoing operational and strategic challenges in the Open University. The vote relates to the actions of the VCE which have affected the quality of tuition provision to students, have strained the goodwill of staff and damaged the reputation of the university

Proposed by: Chris Douce
Seconded by: John James

Motion 3
This meeting believes that events of the last 18 months indicate that a deep divide, which may be unbridgeable, has opened up between the leadership of the university and those who keep the OU functioning in the front line.
This meeting believes that decisions taken over Locations and the Group Tuition will continue to impact negatively on the university.
This meeting also notes that government policy and the HE Bill are likely to create further problems for the OU.
This meeting asks the incoming executive committee to take whatever steps are necessary and feasible to defend staff and prevent further damage.
Proposed by: Lesley Kane
Seconded by: Bruce Heil