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Legal Wrangles Stall No-Confidence

Jan 15 2007 23:18
William the Conquerer
The no-confidence motion against Shama Rahman is being delayed due to concerns over its legality.
The Court will make its first ruling

The forthcoming no-confidence motion against Deputy President (Graduate Students) Shama Rahman has caused legal concerns, as a result of the Sabbatical Officers signing employment contracts.

In most students' unions holders of sabbatical positions do not sign contracts, but have performance agreements instead. At ICU the sabbaticals signed contracts at the start of the year and receive a salary, potentially giving them a degree of protection under employment law. The consequences of this are disturbing, as it places the Union in a position where it becomes difficult to remove an underperforming sabbatical without jumping through hoops.

One potential show-stopper is the rule of not punishing someone twice for the same performance problem - once a warning has been issued, if the problem is not repeated then no further action can be taken. In this case a formal written warning has been issued recently, potentially gutting the content of any no-confidence motion. The counter argument is, of course, that the employment process and the democratic process run concurrently, and Council should be in full possession of all the facts before making a decision.

ICU President John Collins is expected to refer the matter to the newly formed Union Court, allowing it to rule on the legality of the contents of the no-confidence. This will be done before the motion is brought to Council, however that requires Council to approve standing orders allowing Court to meet. An extra-ordinary meeting of Council is expected around the end of January or beginning of February.

Next year's sabbaticals are expected to sign something other than an employment contract to avoid this problem.

Speaking to Live! last week Miss Rahman defended herself against the accusations made in the no-confidence motion.

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Discussion about “Legal Wrangles Stall No-Confidence”

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.
1. Neil   
Jan 15 2007 23:42

Stalking someone on Facebook for quotes is a step too far into their privacy, William.

Jan 15 2007 23:54

That should not have made the final version...

3. Neil   
Jan 16 2007 00:05

The hand of censorship moves faster than the eye!

Jan 16 2007 09:31

If anyone is taking bets on when the union stops paying her (assuming the motion is legal and passes- which would go against precedence), then put me down for the start of June.

Jan 16 2007 22:35

I thought that anything on Facebook was in the public domain. Far from 'stalking', the author has just done his research using a valuable networking tool. The Felix team used photos off Facebook for the ACC (soon-to-be-sport imperial) Bar Night spread. So there..

Jan 16 2007 22:39

In general I'd only approve of that if it was absolutely necessary to the story, or provided additional impact. I chose to remove a quote from facebook as it wasn't necessary to include it - the extra impact/information wasn't worth it. Better to save stalker-esque behaviour for when it really counts and isn't just used for padding.

7. jesus   
Jan 16 2007 22:45

see, someone agrees with me about sport imperial/acc

Jan 16 2007 22:49

Fair enough, ed. I think the comment about 'lies' did add to the imact of the story however. jesus - I agree with you about AAC/SI - but not your hateful tone towards sabbs and their jobs, of which you seem to have very little understanding and too many wild unfounded opinions)

9. Neil   
Jan 17 2007 00:57

I agree that if you confess to something on a public networking website then you shouldn't be surprised if someone else reads it.

However in this case, the comment was an off the cuff quip but was not presented as such in the article.

This is typical tabloid journalism and Live is usually a cut above that.

Jan 19 2007 11:26

Surely if the sabbaticals have signed a contract of employment they must be considered full-time Union Staff. Therefore any discussion of their performance must contravene Staff Student Protocol?

11. Editor   
Jan 19 2007 11:37

It's a bit of a grey area. With a strict interpretation, then yes they would be. Clearly in a democratic system that is not an acceptable situation.

The spirit of SSP is to stop the union getting claims of constructive dismissal should a lynch mob of students or media chase a member of staff out. The sabbs have not been employed for long enough to have that protection: only protection against discrimination on the grounds of race, age etc.

A second year sabb would have that protection, which is why they're replacing the contracts next year.

Unless instructed otherwise Live! articles and moderation will proceed on the basis that the SSP does not apply to sabbs.

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