The Department of Employment and Learning (DEL) head of corporate governance and accountability claims the local University and College Union (UCU) branch’s non-engagement with a new ‘change manager’ at the ‘Tech’ is a block to good working relations.
Andy Cole, has advised the Employment and Learning Committee that the UCU and other trade unions in the North West Regional College (NWRC) will always be encouraged to participate by the Department but in the former’s case this has been to no avail.
It’s now well over a year since Harry McConnell published his critical report on industrial relations at the ‘Tech.’
An action plan was agreed in May 2013 on how to implement his recommendations, to heal divisions and to take the NWRC forward into the 2010s and 2020s.
A ‘Change Manager’ - William Laverty - was consequently employed in June 2013 in order to lead this process.
But the local branch of the UCU has not participated in a Joint Consultative Committee at NWRC and it is not currently engaging with the aforementioned Change Manager.
Briefing the DEL Committee recently, Mr Cole said: “The college has managed to maintain momentum on the action plan in spite of the lack of engagement by UCU. UCU is not accountable to the Department for its actions.
“From the outside, however, we wish to make comment that the approach that the local UCU branch has taken is not conducive to developing good working relationships on a day-to-day basis in the NWRC or in any college.”
UUP MLA Robin Swann, Chairing the Committee, said he found Mr Cole’s comments about the UCU “quite disparaging.”
But Mr Cole replied: “Chair, that was not the intention. This is certainly not a case of goodies or baddies, and I do not want to overplay that. With regard to UCU, we are saying that the channels are open and the structures are there; it is currently not engaging, and we welcome it to engage.
“Discussion and dialogue are ongoing in the background, and we very much welcome that, but we all want to see it as part of this change process.”