The University of Brighton Executive board and Vice Chancellors have put 49 staff at risk of redundancy, with plans to replace specialised school- based support with centralised provision and the future outsourcing of printing and other services.
The Brighton Branch of The Young Communist League wish to express our solidarity with the UCU members and staff in their planned strike action against these decisions.
Threatening the job security of one third of the IT staff during the second national lockdown, a time when the majority of teaching has moved online, is senseless on multiple levels.
In a year when the coronavirus pandemic has bought the world to its knees, it is inconceivable to think of a moral justification for the compulsory redundancies of such an essential department of the university in the lead up to Christmas.
The necessity for a specialised and dedicated department with detailed knowledge of the university’s IT system and structure has never been more apparent; yet the management feel now is the time for restructuring in order to save costs with little to no justification.
With over 21,000 students at The University of Brighton (the majority of whom are now working remotely), the futile decision to make compulsory redundancies to these staff members will no doubt have serious, adverse effects of the quality of teaching and education at the university.
The lack of forethought and the complete negligence on behalf of the senior management is reflected in an email that was accidentally sent to a student in which Debra Humphris, the Vice Chancellor of the university, outlined the fact that she wants all students to receive a ‘standard reply ’to complaints about the redundancies.
The email stated “Please can we do as before and hold all the emails and ensure they receive a standard reply so that neither Ruth nor I respond directly.” Ruth is in reference to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Ruth Whittaker.
The premeditation to essentially ignore student voices on an issue that will so abhorrently affect their education, which is paid for through the nose, seems almost criminal. It sends a clear message, although by accident, that the bosses of the university care more about cutting costs and saving face than the education they are supposed to provide.
The majority of staff have worked assiduously to provide the level of education the students deserve (and pay for) during this difficult year. Yet this effort is undermined by the executives who feel the need to prioritise cost efficiency and surplus income over education standards.
The importance of the IT department pre-Covid cannot be emphasised enough, in a university that prides itself on its technological resources. Needless to say, their value has increased ten- fold during this time when technology has been utilised more than ever in ways that were unimaginable only last year.
The outsourcing of such expertise will, without doubt, be inadequate at the best of times. The need for university based technicians, who know the functions of our university in order to provide tailored support in a case-by-case manner, is indispensable.
Awaiting the outcome of this direct action is an unnerving position to be in knowing that as students, our concerns are hardly acknowledged by those in charge on issues that will so directly affect us.
It is due to this that the YCL wishes to express full solidarity towards the campaign against the planned compulsory redundancies of IT staff at The University of Brighton, with the aim that the decision will be revoked and all staff will maintain their positions.
YCL Brighton Branch