LEEDS University is facing strike action over the dismissal of three philosophy lecturers who have been employed on a succession of fixed-term contracts.
The university said the decision was taken to reduce a deficit forecast in their department but the Association of University Teachers is disputing this. A strike ballot will be organised within a week if they are not reinstated.
The lecturers have all been at Leeds for at least five years and the AUT argues that they are integral teaching members of the philosophy department whose jobs are not coming to an end. This distinguishes their case from that of fixed-term researchers employed to do a finite piece of work, according to the union.
"This type of lecturing position has historically been permanent," said a local AUT spokesman. "It is in a core academic area and the lecturers are doing exactly the same job as their colleagues on permanent contracts."
The union says the proportion of staff on fixed contracts at Leeds is about 50 per cent, although the university says this is an exaggeration. The university declined to comment this week.