Vice-Chancellor Debra Humphris shocking leaked email concerning upcoming IT staff strikes – covered by The Verse’s Ines Dubourg.
University of Brighton staff and students were appalled to find out the Vice-Chancellor’s and the University Executive Board (UEB) plans to make more staff redundant. The expected reaction of a strike from staff lead to a mass of emails to the Vice-Chancellor, in which she accidentally responded to a student with an email meant for her PA. The email was regarding the way she would respond to student complaint emails on redundancy of IT staff and strike reactions.
The strikes are in response to Debra Humphris’ and senior management’s choice to fire two IT staff members. Not only is this action being taken in the middle of a pandemic where teaching has moved completely online so IT staff are essential, but staff members are relieved of their jobs just weeks before Christmas. In a controversial email received by student Matt Wilson, meant to be sent as a request to her PA, we see Debra ask that students ‘Receive a standard reply so that neither Ruth nor I respond directly?’ a committee that really cares. When you weigh up letting two employees keep their jobs or leaving them jobless for Christmas and disrupting two weeks of lectures for students in the middle of a pandemic, it is not a hard decision.
Staff are planning to strike on the 2nd, 7th, 10th, 15th and 16th of December, but would you believe this can be stopped in a matter of minutes! To provide students and staff with a supportive IT team is the least we should expect when we pay £9250 a year. The staff don’t consider their demands unreasonable. The Chair of the University’s UCU branch, Mark Abel, states that “If they lift the threat of redundancy, there’s no strikes.” The entire strike could be avoided if they simply guarantee these two jobs are safe.
Although the focus is on the two members of staff who belong to the UCU, as they have decided to take the strike action, they stand by and support the Unison who are also protecting several other members of staff in the same situation. The Unison have not decided to strike at this moment in time.
The university has led many strikes, with over 6 weeks of teaching having been missed in 2019. Over the years, we have seen Debra and senior management take advantage of Brighton students as we received no refunds or compensation from the University, unlike Sussex who received partial loan refunds. The teachers stand together, rightly so, and so should we.
If you’re fighting for our teachers or our right to a proper education, feel free to contact Debra herself at D.Humphris@brighton.ac.uk.
Featured image by Fraser Ward (@fw_media)