In a Board meeting on 29 April 2010, the University Board decided to return parts of Uni Global to the UiB. Uni Global employees gathered yesterday afternoon for an information meeting about the situation. At the meeting, Arne Svindland, Managing Director of Uni Research, told them which parts of the activities the UiB plans to take over.
Since January 2010, when it became clear that the UiB wanted to take back Uni Global, employees have felt uncertain about how this will affect their work situation and if they will keep their jobs. Frustration grew when it became known in April that the university wanted to take over only parts of the department.
Svindland assured those who were present at yesterdays meeting that no one will be dismissed.
'First and foremost, we would like to focus on our employees during this process. Up to this point there are no plans for dismissals or lay-offs. Dismissals will definitely be the last way out, says Mr Svindland to På Høyden.
Bård Hekland, programme co-ordinator for the Nile Basin Programme and NTL's employee representative at Uni Research, says employees take a positive view of the signals from Uni's management.
'The important thing for us is that everybody has a job, regardless of whether it is with Uni or the UiB. We have now received assurances from Uni that it will do what it can in the present situation. In our experience, Uni has a good personnel policy, but we are not sure that the same can be said of the UiB,' says Mr Hekland.
The uncertainty surrounding the commitment to development-related research in the wake of the Uni Global situation has resulted in several employees starting to look for other potential employers than the UiB, according to Mr Hekland.
'People are looking for alternatives, because they feel unsure about whether the UiB will keep its word and focus on development-related research. This does not just concern the six to eight people who are not included in the transfer to UiB, says Hekland.
Transfers parts of the activity to the UiB
UiB's management has prepared an overview of which parts of the department it wants to take back. The overview was sent in a letter to Uni Research on Friday May 7.
The following will be transferred to the UiB:
* Projects and employees with CROP (Comparative Research Programme on Poverty)
* Projects and employees with NBRP (The Nile Basin Research Programme)
* UiB projects financed by The Research Council of Norway, NUFU, EU and others will be transferred to their respective departments.
* All temporary project employees working on UiB projects whose period of employment extends beyond 2010.
* Administrative employees who were transferred from the UiB to Uni Research on the establishment of Uni Global.
The following will not be transferred to the UiB:
* Projects that are completed in the course of 2010.
* Those employed in permanent research positions that are not linked to specific research projects.
* Administrative employees who were employed after Uni Global was established and for whom 'no corresponding functions can be found at the university,' as outlined by UiBs management.
Moreover, the university management is considering transferring Uni projects and Uni projects with UiBs support to other Uni departments. 'This applies to, for example, IMER activities that were already organised within Unifob before the establishment of Uni Global, according to the letter.
There are approximately six to eight positions that will not be transferred to the university, of a total of 23 positions, corresponding to 19 full-time equivalents, in addition to two employees in secondary positions (numbers for April 2010).
Surprise at portrayal of IMER's history
International Migration and Ethnic Relations (IMER) is one of the groups that UiB's management believes should exist within Uni Research since the activity 'was already organised i Unifob before the establishment This wording has provoked reactions among the employees.
We think the description of IMERs history is odd. IMER was established as a focus area within the Faculty of Social Sciences and has always existed as a group of researchers across organisational boundaries, even though the IMER administration and externally-financed projects have been Unifob's responsibility. The sharp division between UiB and Uni is a recent development, says Christine M. Jacobsen, researcher and academic supervisor at IMER.
Today, she is employed by Uni Research, but she tells us that most of those connected to the IMER environment are employed by UiB. IMERs academic and administrative management is financed by the Faculty of Social Sciences.
The ongoing reorganisation is causing unrest and disturbing IMERs academic activity in Bergen. We trust that the UiB and Uni will find a solution that will ensure a continued strong academic environment, says Mr Jacobsen.
The goal and the means
Bård Hekland says there is a strong desire from all employees of Uni Global to protect the interdisciplinary competence that has been built up over time.
We think it is a good thing that the University Board is expressing its commitment to focus on development research, but we feel that there is a lack of correspondence between the positive attitude and the proposed organisation between the goal and the means, says Hekland.
Among other things, he points to the fact that UiB's management has chosen not to transfer the post of IMER coordinator, at the same time as it says that the university would like to have the coordinator function for development research.
There are relatively few people who are not being transferred to the UiB, so it is especially odd that this is raised as a matter of principle. At the same time, the six to eight people represent core expertise that would be important for the UiB to acquire, if the management really intends to focus as much on development research as it claims, Mr Hekland points out.
The managements of the UiB and Uni Research were scheduled to meet yesterday evening to discuss the Uni Global situation. På Høyden's article was written before the meeting. In an email sent yesterday afternoon, Sigmund Grønmo writes:
As rector and Chair of the Board I have the responsibility to follow up the Boards decision and find a good and reasonable solution for Uni Globals employees as soon as possible. The UiB and Uni Research have a shared responsibility and, on this basis, the managements of UIB and Uni Research have already had very constructive talks,' says Grønmo and he concludes:
It would not be right for me to comment further on the case in the media at the present stage.
Before the meeting, Managing Director Arne Svindland in Uni Research signalled clearly that he and the Board stand by their view that Uni Global, should to be transferred in its entirety to the UiB.
From our viewpoint, we received instruction from the UiB in 2007 to expand global and development-related studies. When we receive a good evaluation of the activity in 2009, they should retract all the instructions they gave us. This is a disagreement in principle, says Svindland.
Uni Research's management stands by the Board's decision from February 17, which is based on transfer to the UiB of Uni Global as a whole. The decision also opens for adjustments if they benefit Uni Research in terms of human resources, financially and academically.
We have to talk with the University Board concerning our disagreement on this point, and clarify whether the letter from the UiB's management is a recommendation or if this is the universitys final position, says Svindland.
According to Bård Hekland (NTL), all the trade unions support Uni Researchs point of view. A Uni Research Board meeting is scheduled for this coming Friday. So far, there are no plans to change the boards decision from February. The Uni Global matter is defined as an information item.