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Arif Plots Sweeping Management Restructure

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Aug 22 2004 22:19

Union President, Mustafa Arif, has recently announced that there is to be a controversial restructuring of Union Management, coming into force for the start of next month.

Click Here for the Full Article

Aug 23 2004 10:04

Simon, are you in dramsoc?

What about these rumours about a faculty union commissioner as well?

2. kevin   
Aug 23 2004 10:28

As for the reforms, at lesser unions they might seam like an open invite for nepotism, and at the same time be taking the concept of conservative continuity too far. Here though they could well be progress - as long as the likes of Simon Rawson keep their eyes open.

3. Simon   
Aug 23 2004 10:29


I'm not in DramSoc. I have no bias in this article, other than a genuine concern for the future of ICU...

Aug 23 2004 12:09

There are a number of factual errors and misleading inferences in this article which I have directly emailed the author and editors about.

The Faculty Union Commissioner is not a staff post. I've simply asked Shrenik to advise me on the subject of Faculty Unions - and sorting out Life Sci in particular.

Aug 23 2004 12:41



Aug 23 2004 14:40


simon - fair enough

Aug 23 2004 15:55

simon: so you think that people are not concerned for the future of ICU if indeed they are investigating new management structures?

Aug 23 2004 16:33

Shrenik your question doesn't make sense.

Aug 23 2004 17:54

It does

10. Simon   
Aug 23 2004 19:43

Mustafa, I appreciate your email. Thank you.

I stand corrected on the fact that (and I quote) "It is my responsibility (and mine alone) to manage staff (including determining posts, structure and salary) consistent with the policy aims of the Union (what we want the Union to do) and the budget approved by the Executive."

I sought counsel about these matters, because I must admit that I do not know all the ins-and-outs of the consitution. I apologise that the advice I was given was wrong. I have asked the editor to revise the article accordingly.

However, I must maintain that I totally disagree with the idea that the President can execute such far reaching reforms which influence peoples' lives, the finances of the Union and the entire future of ICU without the normal consultation and approval.

And it is that, Shrenik, which concerns me.

That there is need for change and business improvement in ICU was never in question.

Aug 23 2004 20:21

So is there anyone from last year's Exec prepared to say that theses changes were approved at the last exec?

Can the president at least confirm that he had exec's approval to change the staffing budget?

12. Simon   
Aug 23 2004 20:39

I *did* try to get comment from people on last year's exec, but got no response :-(

Mustafa acknowledged, in his email to me, that he would have to wait for Exec to approve any budget changes next term. I have included this in the revised article, which I have submitted.

13. Editor   
Aug 23 2004 21:01

This article has been updated as per several requests.

Aug 24 2004 11:46

Three words to sum up the above article and comments:

What absolute twaddle.

Aug 24 2004 12:35

With regard to student consultation, bear in mind the extent to which the Union's hands are tied; staffing matters cannot be discussed in any open meeting such as Council, only by a specific item at an Exec meeting which must move into closed session at that point.

Also, try suggesting to Dramsoc that a single staff member will reduce dependance on their entire mafia!

Finally, with regard to lack of meetings, remember that if any action was actually being taken that Exec or Council (the ready-elected members, anyhow) didn't like, they could demand an emergency meeting: whilst they won't bother for slight annoyances in the way policy may be interpreted, or suggestions not likely to come into effect before the next ordinaru meeting, that safegaurd is there should any sabb wish to attempt to make changes contrary to overwhelming student interest.

16. ~/@   
Aug 24 2004 12:50

I think the point that some people are missing here is that if the changes take place and staff are emplyed on new terms before exec meets to look over the budget, the union can't just get rid of staff if exec doesn't like what's happened. If staff are given contracts already and exec decides it doesn't want to allocate the money for these posts, there's nothing that exec can do about it as the union would be bound by contract to keep the staff.

If exec is the group that needs to approve the budget then it's better that they do it before the union employs anyone.

17. Dan L   
Aug 24 2004 12:59

But you can sack the people who made the changes ;)

So if people don't like it they could start by sacking Mustafa.

Aug 24 2004 13:30

If you look here, you will see what these "staffing matters" which are not supposed to be discussed are.

It is my reading of that you cannot talk about any changes of employment for existing staff, but you can talk about employing new staff in any open meeting. Fair enough, it involves changes to job descriptions so it shouldn't be discussed by anyone but a closed Exec.

According to his job description, the Union President is responsible for the staffing and discipline issues. It does NOT say solely responsible, else a discipline panel would consist of one person, the President, whereas it actually consists of a committee of students. It would be reasonable to see that Staffing was also dealt with by a committee of students (e.g. Exec)... So in my learned opinion, Mustafa is talking bollocks about having sole authority to do this. He does not, and I would caution him to to employ anyone before Exec have ratified the plans simply because any financial damage done may have to be rectified out of his own pocket.

Aug 24 2004 15:40

"remember that if any action was actually being taken that Exec or Council (the ready-elected members, anyhow) didn't like, they could demand an emergency meeting".

Only if they know about it in time to be able to act and there doesn't seem to be any formal means for this. Just as well odd snippets get published in the student media.

Aug 24 2004 16:10


Isn't that a government title? Who does Mustafa think the new Union Manager is? Sir Humphrey Appleby?

To stay within the rules of Live!, I make no comment on the new Union Manager himself, but the title Permanent Secretary will, I would argue, alienate the staff even further from the general membership.

If you wanted to really reflect the strategic role of the Union Manager, you would choose a title like - Director-General, or General Manager, or - ideally - Union Manager.

Permanent Secretary. Even Eric Allsop never tried to equate his role with a Secretary of State (although Andy Heeps did once try to change his title to Supreme Governor).

Isn't it amazing how YET AGAIN more time is spent working on how the Union is structured as opposed to actually doing anything useful?

Aug 24 2004 16:23

Useful stuff is being done. You just havent bothered to find out what.

Aug 24 2004 18:22

Yes, minister.

Or should that be: Yes, Faculty Union Commissioner...?

Aug 24 2004 19:21

Remember this folks, when the budget slashing time comes, that above is the reason for it...

i thought the union set its budget at the end of the year for the next one. so I am sure if i still pitched up to meetings to be repeatedly asked to sit outside for long periods of time (i.e. exec and staffing) i would be wondering how the books would be balencing.

People who know who this thin alias really is might wander what my opinion on a specific part of all the above is. Well its simple - Its not simple... but for a starter I should point out that 4 people in one place at the same time for 4 hours is not always directly related to 1 person in the same place for 16 hours... of course we could all be focusing on the wrong part of the article. maybe maybe we meant to say handyperson.

Interestingly in the rest of the world everyone is more interested in reducing headcount, and contracting in labour as and when it is needed. Casual labour if you will...

This post was of course inspired by the voices....

Aug 24 2004 20:24

Less meetings and more action is a good start.

As [email protected] so rightly says - there is only one group who ever suffers - and that is clubs and socs.

IC maybe unique since it gives C&S's more money than other unions, but this is no excuse to slash their budgets to make way for more staff to do jobs that students already do.

Maybe our esteemed president should remember that this ICU is for students and run by students (with support from staff).

We have done fine so far so why spend more money on pointless jobs....

25. cap   
Aug 25 2004 08:15

"Also, try suggesting to Dramsoc that a single staff member will reduce dependance on their entire mafia!"

No but set up correctly could aid the 'mafias' organisation, but i feel that is not really the intention by the job title.

Aug 25 2004 09:40

DramSoc just need to stop being so secret about stuff they do, and be more open.

However they are a prime example of how iCU works. They are students who work for free, giving up their own time to help other students have fun and enjoy themselves. This is what the union is all about - everyone getting involved.

By employing members of staff to do these things this completely destroys the whole way the union runs, and moves the union more and more towards a business machine which reduces student participation.

Aug 25 2004 10:07

What I don't understand is once all these new people are employed to do all these jobs, what are the sabbaticals going to do???

Make the tea? (Oh they already employed someone for that).

Why waste all the money on doing this stuff, when it could be spent on things the union does well?

A sad legacy of the appaling mess of left by "President" Ganesh - they impression that we must have more staff because there is so much to do.

And a sad reflection on why two term sabaticals are a bad idea. If they're people who aren't good enough to get a job, other than as a management consultant, do we really want them hanging around?

Aug 25 2004 10:10

I'm more inclined to think if you're going to have to have a permanent "Technical manager", then why not have a Deputy President (Ents). At least you might get a student who wants to do it every year, rather than someone looking for a quick buck.

Plus the added benefit of a new person every year means lack of stale ideas.

Re Dramsoc being more open - exactly how are they secretive now? What would like to be more "open" about them?

29. cap   
Aug 25 2004 12:03

I don't think Dramsoc are as such secretive about what they do, they just don't have a weekly half page spread in felix about their weeks exploits, which i think is pretty much the same for most non sports clubs.

Lets be honest if they did we'd probably just complain about them being egotistical self publiscists

Aug 25 2004 12:06

Gus, prices are the thing people are confused by - identical packages for different people cost different amounts - very odd!

All we need is for the UM to be renamed Permanent Under Secretary, and then the union will have a PUS. Sounds very similar to our fantastic labour government structure.....

Aug 25 2004 12:08

So can we at least have a guarantee that if these posts are created, it won't necessitate any more Clubs and Societies budget cuts? Presumably that much must be decided by Exec, which is then open to challenge by Council...

32. Fed up   
Aug 25 2004 12:20

It is my strong feeling that we don't NEED these posts.

Restructure, sure. Rebrand, fine. Refocus, excellent.

But I really don't think that we need to pile on the overheads.

*Editors note: this reply has been edited to avoid possible breaches of the S/S Protocol.

33. ant   
Aug 25 2004 13:37

"identical packages for different people cost different amounts - very odd!"

Random Student, the chances are that they are not actually identical packages. They maybe similar events from the outside, but there are many factors that come in to each individual event that are not always outwardly obvious.

34. tom t   
Aug 25 2004 14:18

'And a sad reflection on why two term sabaticals are a bad idea. If they're people who aren't good enough to get a job, other than as a management consultant, do we really want them hanging around?'


This two term idea is just a whole load of over-inflated ego claptrap where an incumbent who couldn't be bothered about thinking what there might be that's better to do, gets to deprive another student of the chance to 'manage' an organisation for year. It's an educational/training role, not the overblown, self-important besuited and medallion-sporting role that it has become.

What we need is more students in the Union, along with an entrance that has so much information about what's going on that they don't want to leave. Not a sterile public toilet with one noticeboard reserved only for adverts for friday night's event. Couple that with a spacious and airy bar with cream walls and windows that haven't been obscured by seating, pine floor and fair trade coffee, and suddenly you'll find people wanting to use the WiFi facilities at all hours (as long as the telly is kept firmly off excepting decent sporting events). Oh, and keep the Union bar open in the summer.

Every president can choose how to spend his time as he/she sees fit, as there's more to do than time to do it, but filling the balance books with unneeded liabilities while turnovers are falling is crackers.

Aug 25 2004 14:52

"......gets to deprive another student of the chance to 'manage' an organisation for year..."

Funny, I thought there were elections for these kind of things, as in you, the student populus, get to choose whether to give them the boot or not or let someone else have a crack. Hardly deprivation.

"as long as the telly is kept firmly off excepting decent sporting events".....One man's garbage is another man's treasure.

"Oh, and keep the Union bar open in the summer."

Not practical and as an ex member of bar staff, you ought to know that.

Aug 25 2004 15:47

A couple of people (and this article) have questioned what Exec may or may not have known about/authorised/funded.

The 2003-4 Executive Committee did not at any stage discuss this restructuring. At all.

As far as I am aware, the new Exec has not discussed this either, though since I am no longer Council Chair I can't comment on that with total certainty.

Aug 25 2004 17:58

To my knowledge the new Exec hasn't met yet and there are no plans to until September.

Tom T - That sounded awfully like a manifesto!

38. editor   
Aug 25 2004 21:23

A couple of sections of posts have had to be removed since they could be construed as discussing staff performance, potentially breaching staff-student protocol regulations.

Re-wordng might avoid this but you'd probably rather do that yourself than have a paraphrased comment still credited to you.

Aug 25 2004 23:31

Dear Editor,

I don't think a link to a Corp of London website can be credited as "discussing staff performance". If you believe it to do so, please can you justify your actions.

Please can we have that link returned.

Aug 26 2004 09:00

Without wanting to pass any comment on the performance of a staff member (who hasn't even started working yet!), this link is purely informational.

41. Seb   
Aug 26 2004 09:08

Oh what a mess.

Dramsoc is not secretive. If you go and talk to them, then you can find out what they are doing. Given the excellent services I, and my colleagues, have recieved when working with them, I would tend to think this "secretive" nature is probably more to do with them getting on and doing things rather than chuntering round meetings. I'd also, on that basis, wonder quite what the point of this new officer is.

As for DP Ents, now there is a sabatical place I might have considered running for.

Aug 26 2004 10:39

And, F*cked Off, as is this piece of free information (you will notice that the article casts no dispersion on one's ability to be a Permanent Secretary...).

Bring on the censureship police!

43. editor   
Aug 26 2004 14:36

The issue was not purely the link, but the context, suggesting that certain plans in the union were likely to have been the work of a particular staff member, and that certain behaviour or actions could be assumed regarding that staff member, because of the content of the link.

The link is not discussing staff performance on an open forum of the Union, since all comment is on an external site; but when accompanied by comment on this site you move very rapidly towards the wrong side of something of a legal grey area.

Aug 26 2004 14:39

Dramsoc? Secretive?

Are you referring to that large group of students in clearly labelled "Dramsoc Crew" T shirts who take over most of the Union Bar and discuss DramSoccy things at great length and volume every Tuesday?

45. tom t   
Aug 26 2004 15:43

And to re-iterate my praise to FedUp / F*ckedOff:

Well done on an excellent and informative bit of research.

(which in no way could possibly be construed as any passable comment or otherwise pertaining to the performance of any member of the Union staff, whether now, in the past or in the future, and should be taken only as in the context of this particular post, and not the whole thread topic. Anyone reading this who thinks that this material is not for their eyes should stop immediately and return this comment to the internet where the free exchange of information can then carry on unhindered by editors worried about the intersting stuff that bored students do in August.)

46. Simon   
Aug 26 2004 15:43

I see that the first meeting of Exec is now scheduled for 17 Sept... before any ordinary members can be elected, with only Sabbs and FSAs able to attend. Of course it's perfectly legal according to our consitution...

I can't wait for the outcome. All I can hope is that some of the new kids have the confidence to challenge any plans that are put forward.

Aug 26 2004 20:29

...17 Sept... before any ordinary members can be elected, with only Sabbs and FSA's able to VOTE.

Exec is an open meeting except staffing and disciplinary matters, any full ICU member can attend...

Aug 26 2004 20:31

Staffing matters meaning staff performance, rather than broad staffing policy.

49. tom t   
Aug 27 2004 14:32

look out for the staff student protocol Nichola, I can tell you're on dodgy ground already. I don't think that you want to insinuate in any way that 'performance' and 'matters' could be in any way related ;-))

50. tom t   
Aug 27 2004 14:43


"Funny, I thought there were elections for these kind of things, as in you, the student populus, get to choose whether to give them the boot or not or let someone else have a crack. Hardly deprivation."

That's right. Funny how one of the people who WAS going to stand for president last year decided to withdraw once the incumbent had thrown his hat into the ring. Couple that with the 'democracy' (presumably spelt with a CGCU) that happens here, and the unfair way in which the the student media was manipulated by one presidential candidate, and suddenly you see where I'm coming from, no?

As an ex-member of bar staff, I can see nothing impractical about having the nice bar open and just retaining seating in dVs. Or is it just that pesky television set that's preventing the staff from agreeing? I think we should be told.

Aug 27 2004 15:49

DVs is kept open during the summer as it is a bigger bar. If you have perchance been around the Union at about 10 o'clock at night, you'll notice that for two months during the summer the Union is invaded on a daily basis by the Prommers. It is simply far easier to deal with the large number of thirsty people that use the retail outlet of ICU Bars with a larger bar open. Summer of your (our) 1st year, the Union bar was kept open as Da Vinci's was being refurbished. I beleive the resulting pandemonium of trying to cope with less room ensured that the bar situation reverted the following year. Simple. And yes there is the advantage that Sports Events can still be shown on the screen eg the Olympics, and you won't have to traipse bakwards and forwards between bars every time you'd like a refill. Plus I'd wager that most of your actual "sat down time" in the bars is probably outside during the summer anyway!

The Union is usually very grateful for the revenue generated from this period as it tends to be redistributed to cover up any c**k ups made by students during the year eg overspends on budgets etc.

Surely by having the possibilty of a two year sabb, once you have been re-elected, you then have 18 months worth of time to get things done, which ought to mean some sense of direction as opposed to the usual shilly-shallying tennis match kind of politics that happened previously. I think when used properly it ought to be a very good idea. However you clearly think that in this particular (and the previous?) case, it isn't. Which leaves you with two options: 1. Table a motion to remove the two year sabb or 2. No-confidence the incumbent. Which is it to be?

52. ~/@   
Sep 10 2004 15:50

Well that's a big 'F*ck you' if ever I heard it. Just wonder if Council will agree with the dear leader's interpretation.

And I don't care what he says, if the Union doesn't make more money then the cash to pay for all this staff has to come from somewhere. Student Activities, and all the other things the Union offers, will suffer.

53. Editor   
Sep 11 2004 11:51

*Comment removed due to commentor's own concerns*

Closed This discussion is closed.

Please contact the Live! Editor if you would like this discussion topic re-opened.