Members of University and College Union’s Liverpool branch voted on 19 June in favour of a ballot on industrial action over moves they believe will force about 2,800 non-academic staff to accept revised terms and conditions.
A “yes” vote in the ballot could trigger an escalating programme of strike action and action short of a strike, such as refusing to work unpaid overtime, this autumn.
The vote follows anger at a letter to staff, which said they must accept new contracts or face three months’ notice of dismissal – with the carrot of being rehired on the new terms.
Unions claim the revised contracts would increase staff working at weekends, evenings and bank holidays without the appropriate time off in lieu.
Union officials have also criticised Liverpool for breaking its own redundancy protocols.
The university announced it is serving notice to staff of a 45-day consultation period, which came into effect in April, as opposed to a 90-day consultation period previously agreed with unions.
UCU regional official Martyn Moss, said: “It’s no surprise that staff voted unanimously to be balloted for strike action.
“We don’t know of any other university that has attacked its staff’s terms and conditions in such a deplorable way.
“The threat to dismiss more than half the staff risks doing serious damage to the good reputation of the University of Liverpool.
“Ripping up the protocols we have agreed with the university and slashing the consultation period will do nothing to improve the morale of staff.
“Unless the university withdraws the redundancy notice and agrees to sit down with us to try and resolve this, strike action early in the autumn term looks a very real possibility.”
A university spokesman has said the changes will help to “standardise the terms and conditions for the university’s non-academic and academic-related staff”.
The changes would “provide greater consistency and transparency about the circumstances in which staff become eligible for certain terms such as pay supplements or compensatory time off”, he added.
“The university will not be making any compulsory redundancies as a result of the new contracts.”