UCU set to strike at Birmingham

Unionised academics at the University of Birmingham have voted to strike over threatened compulsory redundancies and “aggressive” management tactics.

February 25, 2013

Just under two thirds of the 431 University and College Union members who voted – a 48 per cent turnout - favoured launching a series of strikes in protest at 17 threatened redundancies in Birmingham’s department of nursing and physiotherapy, School of Education and Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity.

The union is also upset at what it has described as “aggressive management tactics” by Birmingham.

If Birmingham’s UCU branch gets the go-ahead from the union’s national office, it will stage weekly industrial action for the final four weeks of the current term, with the first half-day strike being held on 28 February.

A statement by the branch says such repeated action is unprecedented at Birmingham.

It says the 48 per cent turnout is “far higher” than for previous strike ballots, and the “strong” yes vote amounts to a “major show of strength” that will boost UCU negotiators’ position.

As well as seeing the threat of redundancies lifted, the UCU also wants to negotiate a redundancy avoidance agreement and a memorandum of understanding on performance management.

However, the union’s dispute with the university over the threatened redundancy of sociologist José Lingna Nafafé has ended after Dr Nafafé reached a voluntary severance deal with the university. Fears had been expressed that the loss of the university’s only full-time sociologist who is a member of an ethnic minority would hit the teaching of ethnicities.

A Birmingham spokeswoman said the university was “disappointed” with the ballot, and felt there was “no justification” for strike action.

“We are actively engaging with Birmingham UCU and national UCU representatives in a series of constructive discussions to try to reach a common position on the approach to managing performance and the steps which are taken in seeking to avoid redundancies,” she said.


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