Members of University & College Union have balloted for strike action next week - this is highly significant considering the scale of the attacks on higher education, with UWE being seen as a test case for what can be forced through, and given the student militancy around this issue - especially at UWE and in the city of Bristol generally. It should be given full support and solidarity. Here is the press release:
Staff to strike at University of West England
• University to face local strike action for the first time in its history over restructure plans
Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at the University of West England (UWE) today (Thursday) announced that they will be taking strike action on Thursday 10 February in a row over controversial restructure plans.
The union has accused UWE of trying to rush through proposals which it believes could lead to inferior jobs descriptions and a dubious selection process. Under the plans all university readers, professors and principal lecturers are being made to reapply for their jobs as the university looks to cut back on senior posts by 25%. The measures will also affect lecturers and hourly-paid staff who will be subject to a review over the next few weeks.
UCU said that although it wasn’t against a restructure in principle, management had refused to allow enough time for the union to see if the process was fair and had prevented a deal from being reached.
The news follows the result of a month long ballot. Two-thirds of staff (66%) who voted supported strike action and over four-fifths (89%) agreed to action short of a strike. The union said that although its members at UWE had given a clear mandate for local strike action for the first time in the institution’s history, it still hoped the dispute could be resolved without any disruption.
UCU regional official, Nova Gresham, 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 may 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.”