When the last business language program, EOK, at CBS was closed down in September 2017, the Senior Management made reassurances that they didn’t plan any job cuts at that time. However, they pointed out that supply and demand within the field of language could change in the future.
And now it has changed.
An email sent to staff at the Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC) has caused insecurity and made staff worrisome. In a hearing notice from the Senior Management sent to the Joint Consulting Committee (HSU), the Senior Management makes it clear that due to the discontinuation of the bachelor there’s a risk of “downsizing” concerning six to seven staff members at the department. The following text is written by the Senior Management.
“In the autumn of 2017, CBS decided to phase out the BA programs EOK and IMK, and to convert the latter to the BSc portfolio (please refer to HSU 3/2017). The execution of this phasing out/reorganization means that a number of tasks, related to subject areas that were previously central to CBS, will in time no longer apply.
It is now clear that there is a risk that this implementation can lead to downsizing. Currently, it is estimated that the risk of downsizing may affect up to six or seven VIPs at the MSC.
For your information, remedial action has been initiated at the beginning of 2019 in relation to former IBC(Dep. of International Business Communication) employees at the MSC, in order to avoid the need for redundancies.”
The hearing notice was sent, along with an email from the Head of the Department of Management, Society and Communication and the employee representative, to the staff at MSC.
Ole Helmersen, the employee representative of the VIP staff, says he and the department is doing what they can to avoid any layoffs.
“In my opinion it’s highly unlikely that anyone will be laid off. Right now, we are looking into whether those affected can take on other tasks within CBS, and for those who are close to retirement age, we’re asking them whether they would be interested in early retirement,” he says.
Dorte Salskov-Iversen, the Head of the Department of Management, Society and Communication, stresses that it’s not a round of layoffs, but a consequence of the Senior Management’s decision to close down EOK in 2017.
“Right now, we’re working on different preventive actions to help the staff members whose tasks are phasing out, to find other tasks within their field,” she says and adds:
“I most certainly hope that we can avoid layoffs,” she says.
The Dean of Research, Søren Hvidkjær says that laying off staff members is the last resort.
“Layoffs are the last resort, and I hope and believe that we can work this out in a way that doesn’t involve layoffs in the end,” he says.
Staff members are worried
According to Ole Helmersen, the email has given rise to anxiety among the affected staff of the former Department of International Business Communication, which was merged with the Department of Intercultural Communication and Management (ICM) in 2016.
“This email has been read and interpreted in different ways, and has caused some insecurity among some of the staff members,” he says and adds:
“And I’m sorry about that. But I don’t think I or the department’s management, including the department forum, could sit on the information we had. Senior Management sent that notice to HSU, and we could not disregard it and let people at the department hear about it through other channels.”
We’re doing what we can to support employees and find new tasksDorte Salskov-Iversen
Dorte Salskov-Iversen explains that the announcement has been discussed in the department forum, which represents all staff members.
“I haven’t been in dialogue with any employees who have expressed a concern about the current situation,” she says.
Some staff members are under the impression that they were assured that the merger of IBC and ICM wouldn’t result in layoffs. And now they’re in a situation that could – if worst comes to worst – result in layoffs. Isn’t that like taking people hostage?
“I have no comments other than the two programs are either being discontinued or radically changed, and this can have implications for staff members. We’re doing what we can to support employees and find new tasks,” says Dorte Salskov-Iversen.
When asked whether it’s a surprise that the former IBC staff are at risk of being laid off, Ole Helmersen answers:
”I cannot comment on the word ’surprise’. But when management decides to close down or alter a program it may lead to teaching tasks disappearing. Such situations occur regularly across CBS. In most cases, they do not cause problems; in a few cases, where staff with narrow teaching profiles are involved, they may cause problems,” he says and continues:
“If such problems materialize, I see it as my duty as shop steward to try to engage with individuals and management to find the best possible solutions for the individuals affected. I will do everything I can in my role as shop steward to try to ensure that no lay-offs occur.”