Sunday, May 06, 2012

The woes of work

I have worked in the higher education sector for 16 and a half years now. The sad thing is, that for a teaching establishment, we have not kept up with technology. I work in telecommunications, but telecommunications is changing rapidly. We now have unified communications, where basically all calls terminate to an I.P address, SKYPE, cloud, all this terminology is above my head and I don't like it.

Recently, our relatively new VC has decided that he is going to tout our services and share them, he has put a tender out and has now invited 5 companies to review our processes and then possibly sell our services. The VC says, to do this, the university will create a new company, we will all have our contracts transferred to that company and as and when an organisation likes the way we do things, they will then 'buy' into our services. We are all up for grabs with the exception of the core VC's office (no surprises there then!). Under current TUPE laws, apart from our pensions (which for us is currently very good, but this is mainly due to the fact it is part of our pay deal) for the first 2 years, our terms and conditions remain the same. The government are encouraging universities and local authorities to share services by offering some incentives, namely, no VAT on services shared and also they are to be 'not for profit'.

Why then, have companies like CAPITA, Xchanging, BT Global and 2 others (One of which we are all pretty certain will be awared the contract as they conducted a process review some months ago and apart from the morality of it, it is totally contrary to procurement legislation, but that's another story) been allowed to put in a bid? All these are' for profit' organisations so where does the 'not for profit' apply?

I have been through more reviews than I have had hot dinners. I have seen people come in and conduct reviews and then suddenly they have gone. All of this is done in the name of saving money but every time another highly paid 'consultant' comes in with their psychobabble ideas, it costs us lots of money and nothing changes.

I accept we need to save money, we owe HEFC a lot due to the jiggery pokery of the previous head honcho. We have always accepted this, but while departments have been cut to the bone and courses cut, the executive group have expanded their number with highly paid staff. For instance
We used to have 1 company secretary that did it all,  now we have 1 company secretary and 2 deputies because the comapny secretary can't do everything the previous one did.
We have an executive officer, god knows what he does as we never had one before, but apprently he is as important as the Vice Chancellor, who also has a deputy Vice Chancellor and deputy Chief Executive. He has also replaced his office manager with an executive assistant who doesn't manage anyone and is on a higher grade of pay (and who worked with him at a previous university. Surprise, surprise)
We also have a director of 'Institutional effectiveness' who is going to recruit for a deputy director, no idea what she does because we didn't have one of those either.

We need to save money and quite honestly, if we got rid of all the exec's we didn't have before, you could save a million right there. Because even though we are skint, they still got paid their 10% bonuses on top of their eye wateringly large salaries, while admin staff have had their jobs regraded under HERA and a lot have been down graded.

I have been through a lot in that place but I have never felt despair. And I feel it every day, it comes off of people in waves and it's very unsettling and disturbing. I have a job, I suppose I should be grateful and in a lot of respects, I am. My colleagues are fantastic people, they are worth a million of the VC.

I have been sending out my C.V, but at 50+ I don't hold out much hope......................................


Akelamalu said...

There are always more high paid Chiefs and not enough Indians in every organisation, especially local authorities - I know I worked in one for 20+ years. Good luck with all the changes.

Carol said...

Thanks Pearl. Sadly I am 3 years off of the minimum retirement age which would offer some safety net, but 3 years is a long time in that place. Never thought I would be wishing to be older at my age!!!! LOL