Uni faces pay-outs to ex-staff
Joint appeal for affected workers to come forward
A case considered by the UK’s highest court could lead to a cash windfall for some staff who lost their jobs at Stirling University.
The University and College Union challenged the university over their right to dismiss without consultation staff on fixedterm contracts.
After a six-year legal battle, the Supreme Court found in the union’s favour.
Now the UCU is trying to identify fixed-term contract staff made redundant between 2009 and 2012 as they may be entitled to compensation over the university’s failure to properly consult with unions over their dismissal.
The saga began in 2009 when the university proposed 140 permanent staff redundancies as they battled with a £4.4m budget deficit.
Consultation was carried out with trades unions, including the UCU, over the permanent posts under threat.
However, the university did not extend the consultation to staff on fixed term contracts who were also let go.
The move which was contested by the UCU who took four test cases to an employment tribunal which sided with them.
This judgement was overruled and went to the Supreme Court which in April 2015 backed the UCU.
Justices said the staff had been “dismissed as redundant” as the loss of their job had nothing to do with them but was because of the costcutting requirements of the university.
Managers at the university should, therefore, have consulted with unions over the dismissal of the fixed-term staff.
Supreme Court justices ordered the matter to be referred back to employment tribunals.
In December last year the case came to an end with a joint agreement between the two parties.
In an agreed statement the union and the university said: “The university and UCU are pleased to report that the long-running legal dispute between them in relation to collective consultation over fixed-term contract staff whose contracts ended, has been resolved on terms which are confidential, but which both parties agree represent a sensible and mutually beneficial solution in the circumstances.
“Both parties now wish to put this matter behind them and work together to improve industrial relations and ensure that the university continues to be a place of excellent research, learning and teaching.
“If you were employed at the university on a fixed (or limited) term contract which terminated during one of these periods and at the effective date of termination had more than three months continuous employment you may be eligible for a payment.
“If you fall into this category and have not received a letter from the university please contact them at (hroperations@ stir.ac.uk) for more information.”
A spokesman for UCU said they were unable to add to the agreed joint statement, but on the union’s website their general secretary Sally Hunt comments: “The (Supreme) court’s ruling followed years of campaigning by us on the important principle that all parts of the workforce deserve protection when jobs are at risk.”
Ms Hunt said it was “reprehensible” that the UK Government had in 2013 “moved the goalposts” so an employer proposing to dismiss fixed-term contract employees was no longer subject to the same consultation obligations as would apply to permanent staff.