Reviews of Staffing in RBS and IT Services

Senior Management at the University admit they could have handled restructuring reviews more sensitively and apologise for the distress and anxiety caused to staff?

Sent by: VP External (Stephen Magee)
To: All Staff
Date: 20 May 2011, 15:39

Colleagues

As you may be aware, the University is currently undertaking reviews and restructuring in our Residential and Business Services and IT Services/Business Improvements Units.

Our single aim in both these reviews is to respond positively to sustained requests from students and staff for improvements in our Catering and IT services.

The case for change is clear. Student surveys have continually expressed a need for improvements in catering, in menus and in variety. In IT, staff and students want and rightly expect systems and support which reflect our status as a world-class university.

In the course of conducting any review, when there is any risk of redundancy to any member of staff, the University is legally compelled to inform all staff that their posts may be at risk of redundancy.

There is no question however of this University making hundreds of people redundant. This claim is simply not true. It will not happen. It is not planned and it is not possible.

We do not want for a moment to diminish the very real apprehension and upset that is felt by any member of staff when they are informed that their job may be at risk of redundancy. We personally wish there was another, less prescriptive or robotic way to approach this, but like every employer we are bound by the need to observe strict legal process.

On reflection, we have not handled all of this process as sensitively as we would have liked and we apologise for the additional distress and anxiety this has caused.

Please however let us offer an unequivocal reassurance about these reviews.

Yes, it is likely that when the reviews are complete, a small number of staff will find that their posts are to become redundant as we introduce new ways of working and new services. These people may leave our employment or may move to new posts. One of the qualities that has defined St Andrews in recent years is our determination to avoid compulsory redundancies wherever possible, and despite the enormous financial pressures in the public sector, we remain committed to that ideal.

In the case of our catering service, the overall number of people employed by us to provide services to our students and staff is unlikely to reduce. It is possible in fact that new jobs will be created and the numbers employed by us will increase.

We sympathise greatly with our staff whose feelings of insecurity are utterly understandable.

That is why it is so disappointing and demoralising to see in the media and now in posters and flyers across campus claims of hundreds of redundancies at St Andrews. These claims appear cynically designed to prey on insecurity. They are not true, as we are confident the conclusion of these reviews later this summer will prove.

We would be greatly obliged if all managers would ensure that this message is made available to all colleagues who do not have access to university email.

Derek Watson
Quaestor and Factor

Stephen Magee
Vice-Principal External Relations

Ronald Piper
Vice-Principal Governance and Planning

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