Liverpool academics vote in favour of strike

Union members at the University of Liverpool have backed a strike over plans to move non-academic staff on to contracts with new terms and conditions.

September 9, 2013

Liverpool

Two-thirds (65 per cent) of University and College Union members who voted in a ballot backed strike action while four-fifths (82 per cent) supported action short of a strike, such as refusing to do unpaid overtime.

The vote follows anger at a letter to staff sent earlier this year that said they must accept new contracts or face three months’ notice of dismissal, after which they would be rehired on the new terms.

Unions claim the revised contracts, which would affect about 2,800 staff, would increase staff working at weekends, evenings and bank holidays without the appropriate time off in lieu.

The plans have provoked criticism from academics across the sector, with 600 professors signing a letter in July condemning the “disreputable” proposals.

The UCU said that the ballot result was a “ringing endorsement” for industrial action but still hoped the situation could be resolved through talks.

UCU regional official Martyn Moss said: “UCU members at Liverpool have made it quite clear that they are prepared to take industrial action to defend their rights at work. “We have a clear mandate for action, but we always want to try and resolve these things without any disruption. We hope the university will come back to the table now with a similar desire.

“We don’t know of any other university that has attacked its staff’s terms and conditions in this way. Threatening to dismiss more than half of its staff risks doing serious damage to the good reputation of the University of Liverpool.”

However, a spokeswoman for the university said of the ballot: “Of our 5,400 staff, 900 were eligible to vote. Of these, less than 300 voted in favour of strike action. We remain committed to achieving an agreement with the trades unions on the terms of the new contract.”

The university has previously said the changes would help to “standardise the terms and conditions for the university’s non-academic and academic-related staff” and “provide greater consistency and transparency about the circumstances in which staff become eligible for certain terms such as pay supplements or compensatory time off”.

simon.baker@tsleducation.com

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