An open letter from Dr Keith Crome, President, British Society for Phenomenology regarding the industrial dispute at University of Liverpool.
Dear Vice Chancellor Prof Dame Janet Beer; Executive Pro Vice Chancellor for Health and Life Sciences, Prof Louise Kenny; and, Pro Vice Chancellor for Education, Prof Gavin Brown
On behalf of the British Society for Phenomenology, I am writing to protest against the arbitrary and indefensible redundancies that senior management at the University of Liverpool have adopted under a phase of Project SHAPE to members of staff in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences. We join the endeavour of those attempting to persuade the senior management at the University of Liverpool to revoke the redundancy plans of Project SHAPE. The BSP condemns the senior management’s disproportionate and punitive approach to pay deduction for union members participating in ASOS (action short of strike). We call on senior management at Liverpool to revoke these redundancy threats, to respect the dignity of all employees, and to treat all employees in a fair and collegial manner. Furthermore, we note that the University’s justification for the implementation of these measures sits ill with the exorbitant pay it continues to award to its senior management team (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/vice-chancellor-pay-university-russell-group-salary-students-fees-a9300286.html).
Accordingly, the BSP thus stands by and wishes to support colleagues at the University of Liverpool. Our Executive Committee (https://www.britishphenomenology.org.uk/executive/) has voted to make a financial contribution to those who are taking industrial action against the threat of job losses with a contribution of £1,000 to their hardship fund. We will also be sharing this letter on our homepage (https://www.britishphenomenology.org.uk/) and to our 3,000+ followers across our social media channels on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
The way in which these redundancy proposals have been drawn up and pursued would, if it came to be regarded as acceptable outside the University of Liverpool, have severely detrimental consequences for the working conditions of academics across the UK.
47 colleagues in Health and Life Sciences were originally targeted for redundancy under ‘Project SHAPE’, and although now reduced to 21, we believe that these redundancy proposals, and especially the manner in which individuals have been targeted for redundancy, will be very alarming to academics across all universities and disciplines in the UK and beyond. The redundancies at the University of Liverpool, if allowed to go through, would set a dangerous, intellectually indefensible, and unjust precedent for dismissing academics on the basis of inappropriate citation metrics and crude grant-capture statistics. Furthermore, the deeply flawed criteria that management at the University of Liverpool is attempting to apply ‘perpetuates research and higher education barriers for women and minoritised groups and those with caring responsibilities’ (https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/metrics-are-clearly-weaponised-against-psychology).
In a time where our communities and institutions face grave challenges stemming from COVID-19, racial inequality, climate change, economic inequality, and digital transformation, critical thinking skills and reflection on our core values as a society are more necessary than ever. It is essential that these skills which the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences provides to students be made as widely available as possible.
Yours Sincerely, Dr Keith Crome, President, British Society for Phenomenology
This letter was sent to the relevant parties at the University of Liverpool on the afternoon of 30 July 2021. Published on BSP Online on the afternoon of 30 July 2021, and shared over our social media channels.
See the HLS47 open letter: https://www.hls47.co.uk/. Sign the open letter: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1K40R4-2AWB9uMssgWkEeYh7BCJhEW0LdpKiOke_nHSA/viewform?edit_requested=true