The University of Warwick
United Kingdom

Colette Webb has been managing the Transnational Resources Centre for 4 years. In the last months the board of a review of the TRC, which involved representation from the departments of French, German and Italian, have decided not to renew Colette's contract in favour of an IT technician on a lower salary, as it is felt that this will enhance the technology within the resource. Colette will be forced to leave her job at the end of this term.

This outrageously overlooks both the hard work that Colette has put into running the TRC over the last years as well as the massive popularity of the resource, as the feedback forms within the unit demonstrate. Instead the move demonstrates the distance between the staff and the reality of the resource, its use, and its users, where and for whom Colette’s amicable nature and well informed advice are entirely responsible for its success. The decision moreover symbolizes a concentration on cost over value which is typical of Warwick PLC or Warwick University Ltd., as E. P. Thompson viewed it (Penguin, 1970), not to mention the current government and its attitude towards education as business.

We, the past and present users of the Transnational Resources Centre, call for Colette’s contract to be renewed, and for the University and the departments to understand the simple facts: the TRC needs someone with the attitude and experience of Colette Webb if it wishes to remain successful and used, but it also needs to be supported, not ignored, by the three languages departments as was originally intended by the founders of the resource. Management skills are required to make sensible use of the spaces of the TRC, and linguistic to keep the DVDs and the database organized as well as communicate sufficiently with the departments. A new staff member with technological in addition to managerial and linguistic abilities, willing to work on a low pay scale, will be difficult to find.

We also ask that the departments and Faculty of Arts recognize that technological problems at the TRC are twofold: simple computer issues, which mimic a university-wide IT services incompetence, and audio-visual, which require specialist training. In light of the above, we ask that the departments and the Faculty reconsider a more valuable and all-around beneficial division of labour which will keep Colette at the TRC but also make space for audio-visual expertise, for instance on a part-time contract. Otherwise it is perhaps time for the Faculty/departments to face up to the fact that they must eventually acknowledge: technology requires money, not man power, to remain updated and functional. If the board had more fairly and comprehensively reviewed the TRC this year, they would already be aware of this.

We, the undersigned, call on the University of Warwick, especially the departments of French, German and Italian, to review the decision not to renew the contract of Colette Webb at the Transnational Resources Centre and enact a more just and comprehensive review of the resource.

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The Renew Colette's Contract petition to The University of Warwick was written by savethe trc and is in the category Employment at GoPetition.