Members will have seen (through the University’s one-way communication system) that UCU members are due to take strike action this week from 1pm on Thursday 23rd and all day on Friday 24th, followed by a work-to-contract over the next few months.
This is due to the University management’s insistence that two employees should be made redundant, which follows a process where groups of (mainly academic) staff were targeted for redundancy. This was during the period where voluntary severance was offered, and many people in that situation opted to take severance under the threat of redundancy.
For these remaining members of staff, retention of their jobs is the priority, and UCU members have shown themselves to be impressively sticking up for the principle that they should stick together and use their collective strength to resist compulsory redundancies. Their ballot resulted in an 85% vote in favour of industrial action to defend jobs. All UCU members should now respect that democratic decision, however they voted.
This is an important dispute, because we do not want the University management to be able to do whatever they want to, as and when they feel like it, and the money saved by ceasing to employ two individuals is peanuts in the great scheme of things.
Whilst we are not opposed to investment in the University, so much core expenditure is being cut to fund projects, which are not essential, but might look good. The reality is that we have never seen a time when so many people are suffering from work-related stress, as workloads increase and management decisions are conflicting and/or non-existent.
Whilst UCU are determined to use democratic methods to defend the jobs of their members and the principle that no compulsory redundancies should be made, the University management seem determined to risk the student experience, just to try to assert their authority and prove a point. They can easily make sure that this action does not take place by being reasonable. There is real reputational damage at stake here for the University, which affects us all.
As fellow trade unionists, we give support and encouragement to all academic staff and UCU members taking action at the end of the week. This means that we will offer verbal support at picket lines and make sure that we are not undermining their action by doing work which UCU members would normally be doing.
However, since we are not formally in dispute, we will be expected to work normally on those days and UCU members on picket lines will respect that.
If you’re a member of UNISON, please stop to say hello to strikers and offer your support. If you’re not a member of UNISON then there is no better time to make sure you join us.