We are aware that today, the Faculty of Biological Sciences (FBS) and the School of Medicine (SoM) have opened a Voluntary Leavers Scheme (VLS) for staff employed directly by those Schools / Faculties, so excluding SES staff based within these areas, in an attempt to save money due to the ongoing financial deficits both are currently facing. It is UNISON’s view that this is a voluntary redundancy scheme as we are told that none of the staff who leave will have their posts backfilled. This final point does of course also lead into concerns about the workloads of staff who remain in these areas.

All three campus trade unions have been involved in these conversations; we have told the University that we do not consider that the case to open VLS in these areas has been made. We are not satisfied that meaningful consultation with the unions has taken place as we have not been presented with detailed financial information that would enable us to propose alternative measures. Similarly, it is unclear to us, from these discussions, whether there are specific areas within FBS and SoM that the University believe need to be cut.

We do not believe that asking staff to make life-changing decisions during a second national lockdown takes into account the extra stress and anxiety staff are already facing; further we are firmly of the belief that now is not the time to lose staff in FBS and SoM, both areas where vital work is taking place to combat the effects of CV-19.

All three trade unions will continue to request the information we need for this to be a meaningful consultation and will continue to meet with the University regularly to discuss the VLS and any further measures that may be needed. We will be organising a meeting for members within FBS and SoM to come along and discuss any concerns, and details of this will be sent out in the coming days.

We will of course offer advice and support to anyone who is considering VR or is concerned about anything else within FBS and SoM.  If you would like to talk to someone, please contact us at unison@leeds.ac.uk