Unions fear 100 job losses

March 8, 1996

Up to 100 lecturing and other posts could face the axe because the University of Westminster wants to build up its cash reserves, unions have claimed.

Lecturers' union Natfhe be-lieves the university has already drawn up a secret staff hit-list and the union has worded a motion urging industrial action if the cuts go ahead. The motion is being circulated to all five university Natfhe branches as well as Unison, the GMB and the NUS.

The latest edition of Westminster's senior management group bulletin, Stop Press, revealed that, as part of its strategic plan, the university wanted to reduce the staffing budget by Pounds 2.7 million (5.5 per cent) in 1996/97. It is also seeking a cut of Pounds 1 million in non-staffing costs.

It suggested that the cuts may be achieved by selective freezing of vacancies and early retirement, though the senior management group says it cannot rule out the need for redundancies.

The university also admits it is seeking to put Pounds 10 million into reserves over the next few years. Spokesmen are refusing to answer directly the union's accusation that the cuts are funding the build-up.

Jill Jones, Natfhe national chairwoman for higher education and a lecturer at Westminster, said: "To put money into reserves at a time when the university is facing a funding cut seems like sheer lunacy. It will mean more work for staff and is cheating the students."

A spokesman for the university said that the cuts were necessary in order to set the university on a sound financial footing and he said that no decisions had been made regarding compulsory staff redundancies. The academic council meets on March 20 and to consider the strategic plan.

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