UCU threatens Sussex with strikes and academic boycott

Two one-day walkouts planned as the dispute over the university’s proposal to cut about 100 jobs continues. John Morgan reports

June 14, 2010

The University and College Union is mounting further strike action over job losses at the University of Sussex – but has suspended action at King’s College London after management agreed to review planned cuts.

UCU members at Sussex have agreed to strike on 18 June and 21 June, as a dispute over the university’s plans for about 100 job losses continues.

The union, which also held strikes in March and May, added: “Further targeted industrial action by both academic and academic-related staff, aimed at fundamentally disrupting the administration of examination boards, will be announced in the coming weeks.”

Sussex UCU is also balloting its members over plans to implement an academic boycott against the university, which the union described as the “ultimate sanction”.

That would see the UCU calling on academics to observe measures such as not giving lectures at Sussex and not applying for jobs there.

Sussex’s council has approved plans to make 107 staff redundant in a bid to save about £5 million a year. Since the council’s decision, about 80 staff have agreed to accept voluntary severance packages. Strikes over job cuts have been held at Sussex, King’s and the University of Westminster this year.

Sussex says that in most areas, it expects to "achieve change without any compulsory redundancies” and that strike action “called by one trade union does not influence our approach nor does it offer positive ways ahead”.

But at King’s, the UCU has now suspended industrial action after the college agreed to review the consultation it mounted over its plans to cut 205 jobs.

The college said there would be no compulsory redundancies during the four-month review.

Jim Wolfreys, UCU president at King’s, said: “We have achieved what we set out to do at the start of the dispute.”

King’s says in a statement that it has agreed with the UCU “a set of measures including a change management protocol and redeployment policy which enables the union’s concerns to be addressed whilst allowing King’s to continue to focus on reducing cost and protecting quality though its restructuring programme”.

Ian Creagh, college secretary and director of administration, said: “We are pleased to have found common ground with the UCU and come to an agreement which is in the best interests of our students and staff.”


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