Colleagues in IT Services (ITS) have now been informed of a major restructure that, given the crucial work our ITS colleagues do for all of us, would have a significant impact across Queen Mary. Whilst ITS as a whole is to be expanded, there are a large number of current roles being discontinued. Under the proposals, 85 posts are being disestablished and 27 staff have not been job matched to new roles, and are therefore at risk of losing their jobs.

In addition to the restructure, management is initiating negotiations on changes to terms and conditions to introduce shift working in ITS and to allow new recruits to ITS to be required to be on call (perhaps for additional reward). The stress and disruption to our colleagues in ITS, as well as the potential precedents which could be set for colleagues across the university, should be a cause for concern for everyone. 

The proposals also have serious potential equalities implications because they will disproportionately impact BAPoC staff:

  • ITS is already disproportionately populated by BAPoC staff: 51% compared to 36% across professional services.
  • 59% of those posts which are proposed to be disestablished are held by BAPoC staff, which is disproportionately high compared to their representation in the unit.
  • 63% of the positions that will be affected by new shift  working patterns are held by BAPoC staff – again, disproportionately high. 
  • No Equality Impact Assessment has been carried out into the effect of proposed “on call” working. 

This restructure is occurring in a part of the university that has already been negatively impacted by multiple restructures in recent years – including that merging E-Learning into ITS, which only happened earlier this year! As we reported recently, Queen Mary’s approach to restructures does not constitute good practice. All organisations need to adapt over time but those that are successful are the ones where the proposals emerge from the grass roots, shaped and framed by those on the frontline – in this case, those building and supporting the IT infrastructure that keeps the university running. That approach builds more informed structures and ensures ‘buy-in’ from everyone. 

Once again, in this case, and as with all restructuring, the proposals were presented to unions a week before the main consultation – but, crucially, we are not able to discuss it with members in that period. Meaningful consultation with unions can only occur once members are free to discuss matters openly and when feedback from those discussions can be incorporated into proposals. With that in mind, there will be a joint union meeting held on Tuesday 11 May at Midday. Reps from QMUCU, QM Unison, and QM Unite will be present. Whilst this meeting is obviously aimed particularly at those who work in ITS, it is open to all members. The Zoom link was sent to all members of QMUCU on Friday via email.

Please support your colleagues during this difficult time by attending if you can.