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Concern at university's staff plans

By West Briton  |  Posted: December 27, 2012

Members of staff with Labour's Candy Atherton protesting outside the Woodlane campus.

Members of staff with Labour's Candy Atherton protesting outside the Woodlane campus.

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CONCERN has been raised about plans to transfer 150 academic and student services staff at Falmouth University to new contracts.

Those affected say they are being moved to a non-university organisation called FX Plus, a company run jointly with University of Exeter, against their wishes.

They say their terms of employment will be worse under the new arrangement, which the universities have denied.

In an open letter, the staff state: "We are not opposed to shared services and have been successfully delivering a shared service for a number of years.

"We recognise changes need to be made and would be willing to look at the most effective way this could be developed. In our view, moving the staff on to inferior terms and conditions is not the way to develop these services."

They express concern that a loss of national pay bargaining will lead to a reduction in their annual leave allowance, lower salaries and a reduction in services.

Stuart Fegan, senior regional organiser for the GMB union, said: "The university hasn't made a case explaining that it would be positive for staff or services to students.

"There's a deep concern from members that there are no guarantees about the future."

Candy Atherton, chairman of the Falmouth branch of the Labour Party, said: "Both UK and EU funds were poured into the university. I'm dismayed there's a little-known plan afoot to bring down local wages by transferring staff with reduced terms and conditions."

Staff are holding daily demonstrations outside the Woodlane campus to highlight the proposal.

One member of staff, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: "The decision's being pushed through quickly without consultation with all staff and students, with a decision by January.

"Morale among staff is very low, not just among the ones affected, and trust in management has broken down. Many people are scared to speak up due to fear of losing their jobs."

FX Plus is a higher education charitable partnership company, owned by both Falmouth University and the University of Exeter, and has 235 staff.

In a joint statement, the universities said: "This proposal is about the organisation of resources to reflect the shared nature of academic and student services and the partnership's ability to deliver world-class services and facilities for students and staff.

"If the institutions decide to implement the transfer of these shared services, staff transferring would continue to enjoy their existing terms and conditions.

"There is ongoing dialogue with staff and the recognised trade union."

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