This week, Bolton MPs sent a joint letter to the Vice-Chancellor of Bolton University, to question the recent treatment of staff and discuss future plans for the higher education institution.
After meeting with staff and representatives from UNISON and UCU, MPs Julie Hilling, David Crausby and Yasmin Qureshi contacted George Holmes, the Vice Chancellor of Bolton University, highlighting their concerns around the future of the university and breakdown in communications with staff.
Bolton University was the only Higher Education Institution in the country last year not to award staff the nationally agreed 1 per cent pay rise; with the Vice-Chancellor now refusing to allow staff backdated pay to mitigate their loss in salary last year. As cost of living has continually risen over the past four years, staff at the university have seen a real-term cut in pay of nearly 13 per cent.
In what seems to be a further effort to destabilise industrial relations, the Vice-Chancellor has repeatedly refused to meet with staff unions over the past 10 months. This has included requests to meet due to staff concerns over falling student numbers.
The MPs questioned the Vice-Chancellor’s decision not to pay staff the nationally agreed pay award last year or allow backdated pay this year, asking ‘Why are you the only Higher Education Institution in the country not to pay this? Why has it been delayed?’
The letter goes on to highlight the concerns of staff around student recruitment, with MPs stating ‘What are the senior management doing to ensure recruitment improves and the numbers do not drop again this year?’
UNISON Branch Secretary for Bolton University, Bernadette Gallagher, said ‘the Vice-Chancellor has repeatedly refused to meet with staff representatives, making excuses or simply ignoring our requests. This shows a blatant disregard to listen to staff and act on their concerns; we again highlight our desire to meet with the Vice-Chancellor to discuss current issues and propose solutions for the university, before it’s too late. We eagerly await his reply to concerns raised by MPs.’
The MPs concluded with their intention to see those responsible for decreasing student numbers held accountable ‘Will Senior Managers, who will have overseen the fall in recruitment be held responsible? How?’