UEL staff set to strike over workload changes

Lecturers at the University of East London are set to hold a one-day strike in a row over proposed changes to staff workloads.

October 17, 2012

Members of the University and College Union will walk out tomorrow after voting to take strike action in a ballot announced back in July.

Further strikes on 23 October and 29 October could also take place if the union fails to reach an agreement with the university.

Academics say the university's proposed new workload policy would lead to more teaching, marking and assessment, branding it "untenable and unjust".

The union, which is supported by UEL's student council, claims workloads are already among the highest in the sector.

UEL topped a long-hours league table based on a recent UCU survey, which found 53.7 per cent of full-time respondents reported working more than 50 hours a week.

Greg Barnett, UCU regional official, said: "These lecturers are already working some of the longest hours in British universities and further increasing their workloads will lead to higher levels of stress and sickness, damaging the quality of education for students.

"This untenable and unjust policy legitimises a dangerous long-hours culture, and gives the green light to differential treatment of lecturers depending on whereabouts in the university they work.

"Strike action is a last resort and we'll continue to seek agreement up to the eleventh hour."

A UEL spokesman said: "We are disappointed that the union is calling strike action while negotiations are ongoing.

"Regardless of action taken, we are genuinely committed to achieving a negotiated outcome to this dispute and hope to reach a resolution with minimal impact upon the student experience."

Meanwhile, academics at Queen Mary, University of London, have decided to postpone strike action over a redundancy scheme to enable further negotiation with the university.

The union announced on 28 September that 211 (65 per cent) of the 325 members who participated in a ballot endorsed strike action over the use of what union officials have called "crude metrics" - such as number of papers published and amount of research income brought in - to identify staff for redundancy.

Around 20 academics from Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry and 11 from its School of Chemical and Biological Sciences are being made redundant in a drive to improve research performance and address the former's financial deficit, the union claims.

jack.grove@tsleducation.com

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