Yesterday, I learned my job as Professor of Archaeology is no longer considered ‘at risk’ of redundancy. Read about this more on the ArchaeologyChester blog.
As folks might know, I’ve been campaigning since 1 April when 7 staff in Archaeology and Heritage (alongside many more across the institution) were notified by email that our posts were identified for potential compulsory redundancy. Only a month later did we learn the plan was to sack 2 out of 7 of us. We never did learn a clear rationale for this process.
Anyway, it now seems our hard-work campaigning has worked and management have been pressured to change their minds. They’ve failed and we’ve won!
We have successfully mustered and mobilised support for our programmes and staff, and for the disciplines we represent more broadly. We did this through unswerving support for the ‘no compulsory redundancies’ stance of @ChesterUCU. See my earlier post here.
I’m extremely grateful to all those who have supported us, including 6,600 signatures and somewhere in the region of 1,500 comments on our petition.
Our Twitter account now has an astounding 3,361 followers attracting untold numbers of supportive comments and shares.
The WordPress site has been used to disseminate and curate 48 posts and 3 project pages in the last 77 days of our campaign.
Our Facebook site has also been used to disseminate the WordPress posts.
These will provide an invaluable platform moving forward to promote our work!
In addition, behind the scenes, we’ve had dozens of experts and celebrities, organisations and societies, writing to senior management in our support and explaining what they should have already known but clearly needed educating about: that our work is superb and Archaeology and Heritage are much-valued and much-needed degree subjects.
Our UCU representatives and officers have been tremendous. We’ve received support from students past and present, academic colleagues across the world, and professional archaeologists, heritage practitioners and members of the public. The volume of support has been overwhelming but so has its quality and character. So many have voiced their understanding and appreciation regarding the value and significance of our work for telling the stories of past lives, for the priorities and composition of our current society, and to serve our shared futures to come.
Still, it’s not over yet! Not only do we fight on in solidarity for staff still at risk of redundancy in other departments and services at the University of Chester, but also elsewhere in the UK where archaeology and cognate disciplines are under attack. In addition to Liverpool and Leicester (in disciplines other than Archaeology), the University of Sheffield’s world-renowned Department of Archaeology remains in peril.
But what of me and my thoughts on the last 3 months?
In short, this has ruined 11 weeks of my personal and academic life (on top of the gruelling pandemic year). Understandably perhaps, I remain livid at the fact colleagues and I were put through this without warning. We’ve had no chance to respond and explain the initiatives and practices by which we have delivered quality teaching and research and promoted these endeavours externally. There have been other insidious dynamics I cannot write about here, but let’s just say things have gone on behind the scenes that are upsetting.
As a result, I’ve been off sick with stress and other medical conditions and I feel I’ve a long way to go to cope and begin to recover. I’ve not been in a good place. Also, it has done as yet unmeasured damage to my family and friendships, but I cannot go into that here either.
Equally, it will take a long time for my work to recover, including some semblance of confidence to be restored in my institution. Likewise, I cannot document here the multiple layers of damaged and disruption to projects and relations with colleagues this process has entailed. A toxic working environment has been created and sadly endures without reconciliation or respite.
Despite all this, today I’m celebrating. I can hold my head up high and continue to do what I have maintained throughout this debacle: delivering my academic teaching, research and administrative roles in a professional and efficient manner. It’s a job I still love despite all the needless baggage that has become attached to it!
And there is one further thing I can be pleased about: no one will now have the (dis)pleasure of reading the 17,473-word pro forma I spent over 2 weeks carefully composing to defend my job!