Aberdeen UCU members vote to strike over job losses

Union members at the University of Aberdeen have voted to strike in protest at the axing of 150 jobs.

June 8, 2015
man placing strike ballot card into box
Source: iStock

Union members at the University of Aberdeen have voted to strike in protest at the axing of 150 jobs.

In a ballot of University and College Union members, which closed on 8 June, 73 per cent of those who voted supported strike action.

Eighty per cent voted for action short of a strike, which could see academics working only their contracted hours or refusing to set and mark additional work for students.

The union is angered by the university’s refusal to rule out compulsory redundancies as it looks to cut its budget by £10.5 million.

The institution, which is currently offering voluntary redundancy and early retirement packages, hopes to free up funding to invest in priority areas.

But Andrew MacKillop, the UCU representative at Aberdeen, said the ballot made it “quite clear” that staff rejected the proposed job losses.

“The level of support for taking industrial action shows the strength of feeling amongst staff and that any move to make staff compulsorily redundant will be strongly opposed,” he said. “Strike action is always a last resort but we can’t sit back and see jobs lost with the accompanying damage to the student experience and the reputation of the university.”

The union will now decide on the next steps in the dispute. Members have already agreed to hold a lobby of the university court meeting on 30 June and will ask students for their support at graduation ceremonies.

A petition opposing the cuts has been signed by more than 2,000 people.

Meanwhile, staff at the University of Dundee are working to rule in an ongoing dispute about job losses.

Dundee is looking to save money by removing approximately 35 academic posts across its School of Medicine and College of Arts and Social Sciences, and by cutting about 50 administrative roles.

However, negotiations are making progress and a third day of strike action which had been scheduled for June 2 was called off.

An Aberdeen spokeswoman said the university was “disappointed” that UCU members had voted for strike action “in the midst of ongoing dialogue”.

The 263 UCU members who voted in favour of a strike represented only 12.5 per cent of the university’s total workforce, according to the spokeswoman.

“UCU had asked for assurance that the university would rule out compulsory redundancies as it seeks to make savings of £10.5 million,” the spokeswoman added.

“We were unable to give that assurance, although we are working tirelessly to achieve the savings we need through voluntary measures as far as possible, and are pursuing a range of additional options to increase our efficiency as a world-leading university.”

chris.havergal@tesglobal.com

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