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New Structure; 101 USP Job Losses?

According to documents obtained by the Fiji Sun, the restructure proposed by Prof Pal may see 101 job losses at the University’s intermediate and junior staff levels (I&J).
26 Sep 2020 11:25
New Structure; 101 USP Job Losses?

On August 28 this year, University of the South Pacific Vice-Chancellor,  Professor Pal Ahluwalia, put together a proposal before the Senate to restructure the University.

According to documents obtained by the Fiji Sun, the restructure proposed by Prof Pal may see 101 job losses at the University’s intermediate and junior staff levels (I&J).

Appendix 6 of the proposal (Reorganising Operations for a Sustainable and Stronger USP) shows that currently there are 62 cleaners employed by the University. Under the new school structure, this has been brought down to two.

Prof Pal hopes to save $677,959 by this exercise however the appendix does not reveal how much outsourcing of the cleaning services would cost the University.

This proposal was put together and tabled weeks before the Fijian Government’s decision to suspend their grant to the regional University which would resume after the serious governance issues at the USP are resolved.

In the same appendix, he has outlined that 16 contracts are ending this year while 113 contracts are ending in 2021 which indicates that this new structure would be rolled out by not renewing the contracts which are ending.

All these vacancies are currently filled by locals and the restructure at this level would affect locals only and no expatriate staff.

Prof Pal’s comments were sought. A response from the USP Communications team stated: “I refer your email to the Vice Chancellor.  Please note that the Vice Chancellor will not be making any comments on this matter.”

It is understood that the Prof Pal is meeting students on Monday. It is claimed that he has blamed the reduction in Fijian Government allocation to USP as the reason for the restructure. However, this is not entirely correct.

Another major money saving proposal in this document is the review of staff benefits.

The report reads: “The University cannot afford any form of salary increments, allowances, bonuses and salary adjustments in the current triennium. There will also be savings from total overhaul in the payments of allowances. This work has already commenced under the Commission’s remit.

“Management was able to negotiate and come to an agreement with the Unions and staff representatives reduce the leave benefits to 10 days in 2020. It will further consider reducing the maximum number of days allowed to be carried over in 2022 (from end of 2021), which is currently 15 days and could possibly be reduced to 5 days. HR will be tasked with the management of staff leave liability to ensure minimum cost implications and strategically communicate this to all staff.”

Fiji Sun sources have also confirmed that Prof Pal did not follow procedures when he brought this proposal directly to the University Senate. They have also claimed that Prof Pal was on record saying that this restructure would not lead to any job losses but so far he has not provided any evidence of his plan to ensure no job losses. They claim that the non-renewal of contracts will be pushed out as natural attrition.

 

USP Process:

Structured change requires the necessary changes in the statutes. This should be approved by two meetings of the full Council and any changes in ordinance requires one reading of the Council.

Changes need to be costed over time with costs and savings to come up with new savings annually until the new structure is fully functional.

All risks and risk mitigation need to be assessed by the Audit and Risk Committee while the Finance Committee needs to clear financials. All policies and procedures need to be changed to incorporate new structure, with necessary approvals.

Senate then, after clearance from the Audit and Risk Committee and the Finance Committee goes to the Council.

In this instance, it is understood that all these processes were not followed and bulldozed through.

 

Appendix 6 reveals

Appendix 6 reveals

Edited by Selita Bolanavanua

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

 

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