RCPTM employees are ready to take strike action
Dear Rector, dear Dean
For the past few months, the Regional Centre of Advanced Technologies and Materials (RCPTM) has been placed under increasing, unprecedented and intolerable pressure by the Faculty of Science. Existing contracts of employment, agreements and the RCPTM official status have been violated along with ignoring the RCPTM Managing Board’s position as the ultimate supervisory authority. The atmosphere has become so oppressive that it hinders the work on our prestigious research grants. Our employees view this situation as an apparent threat, which jeopardises the RCPTM’s existence and current grants, potentially leading to worsening the economic and social conditions or even losing their jobs. A few employees have already decided to leave the centre for this reason, with some others having expressed the same intention, as evidenced by email correspondence. The situation is no longer bearable as the conflicts continue escalating. Therefore, we are officially announcing that from August 22, 2019 onwards, we are ready to take strike action.
Both the Faculty Authorities and the University Authorities have been previously informed of our apprehensions. Apparently, the Faculty of Science has no interest whatsoever in RCPTM’s stable functioning during the time of preparing the new university institute, which has been approved by the University Management as well as the Academic Senate. The situation escalated on July 27 when Mr Kubala, the Dean of the faculty, announced an opening position of the RCPTM General Director, ignoring the fact that the current director’s term ends only in October 2020. Moreover, the RCPTM Managing Board has selected Prof. Michal Otyepka to substitute for the General Director until the end of his term. Such a step has conflicted with the agreement reached at an official meeting in the presence of the Rector, the Dean, Prof. Zbořil and Prof. Otyepka, and, primarily, with the RCPTM Managing Board’s conclusion drawn on June 25, 2019. Not only did Mr Kubala question the validity of the RCPTM General Director’s contract, but he also declared that he is intending to ignore the Managing Board’s conclusions. Meanwhile, he rejected to cancel the job interview, as demanded by the Managing Board. Mr Kubala took all these steps only afterwards despite having no objections at the particular meeting. RCPTM employees have become alert to the possibility of losing their current jobs and thus their financial security.
Furthermore, RCPTM leading researchers have been systematically slandered and libelled. RCPTM’s grants have been continuously reviewed for the past three months as anonymous letters are being sent to the providers (Technological Agency of the Czech Republic, Ministry of Education, and Ministry of the Interior). This results in paralyzing the centre’s research activities and impeding the investigation of major grant projects. Consequently, we are not able to meet personal and scientific deliverables and prepare applications for international research grants, which we have been committed to. This situation poses a risk of sanctions, including returning the financial support to the providers. We ready to provide supporting evidence.
Significant losses of staff due to fears of breaking the management continuity lead to disrupting the centre’s activities—management and research. Growing insecurity also derives from obstructions of the habilitation procedure concerning two RCPTM group leaders. Spreading misleading and false information about the centre and its representatives in media hinders the recruitment of new staff as well as winning new grants. Cases that have already been closed by the particular journal’s offices are being reopened by the Faculty of Science Authorities. It was these unprecedented approaches that resulted in long-term mental problems and subsequent sick leave of one of the best researchers at the university. Real losses in the staff along with the potential financial losses are enormous. We need to emphasize that announcing the state of readiness to take strike action is not a form of coercion; it is indeed a desperate attempt of employees, who thus want to express their anxieties about their future as well as the future of the centre they have devoted substantial parts of their careers to.
Therefore, we demand the following:
- Respecting valid contracts and conclusions drawn by the RCPTM Managing Board, including the guarantee that Prof. Otyepka will manage the centre until October 2020.
Management continuity will be thus ensured, so the employees can carry on doing their scientific work.
- Immediate initiation of all the key projects transferring by August 31, 2019, so that they will be under the Rector’s office administration—VTP UP.
All the required deliverables will be thus met and the research groups will be able to perform their work.
- Guaranteeing that the centre will be able to use the building and the equipment so that the grant projects will smoothly continue being solved, which we committed to in the proposals.
- Immediate discontinuation of investigating all alleged ethical violations at the faculty level and passing all potential initiatives to the Rector of the University or the particular vice-rectors.
If these requirements are not met, we will have to go on strike, in compliance with the Charter or Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. This procedure has also been supported by the Institute of Molecular and Translational Medicine and the Centre of the Region Haná for Biotechnological and Agricultural Research.