UWE staff set to strike over jobs proposals

Union members at the University of the West of England are to strike over plans to cut jobs and make academics reapply for their positions.

February 4, 2011

Members of the University and College Union will hold strike action on 10 February – it will be the first in the institution’s history.

The union believes that the restructuring will lead to “inferior jobs descriptions and a dubious selection process”.

The UCU said the plans will force all university readers, professors and principal lecturers to reapply for their jobs, with the number of senior posts cut by 25 per cent.

The measures will also affect lecturers and hourly paid staff, who will be subject to a review over the next few weeks, the union said.

In the ballot, 66 per cent of staff who voted backed a strike and 89 per cent supported action short of a strike.

Nova Gresham, UCU regional official, said: “Management is looking to rush proposals that will affect the jobs of hundreds of staff here at UWE.

“Had they been prepared to pause their plans and allow time for both sides to sit down together and make sure the process was fair and transparent, a deal might well have been reached by now.

“There is still time for a negotiated settlement to be reached, but management should be warned that staff trust is at an all-time low, and they are very angry at the way things have been handled. Unless the university gets its act together, the branch will take local strike action for the first time in its history."

John Rushforth, deputy vice-chancellor of UWE, said: “It is understandable that there are concerns about jobs throughout the sector in the current climate.

“We are determined to invest in teaching and research where we can. The university is investing in 40 new academic teaching posts and has created new professorial posts.

“We have been able to protect front-line teaching staff and put more investment into consistent contact hours to students.

“By acting early, to date, we have been able to avoid compulsory redundancies and been able to be supportive and sensitive to those involved in the changes.”

john.morgan@tsleducation.com

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