On 23 and 24 November, Brighton University and College Union (UCU) will begin its strike action against compulsory redundancies with a “whole day strike” and a “mass walkout”.
The strike follows yet another impressive ballot result for the union in defiance of the Trade Union Bill, with the branch reporting that members had “voted overwhelmingly in support of industrial action”, with “85% in favour of strike action, and 92% in favour of action short of strike”. The result at Brighton follows other successful industrial action ballots at Manchester UCU and Leeds UCU branches, both of which have now been out on strike.
In September, University of Brighton management announced that it intended to make five academic staff compulsorily redundant, including lecturers in Modern Foreign Languages and researchers in the Schools of PABS and Education.
According to Brighton UCU, university management are trying to increase the surplus achieved by the university through reductions in staff costs. Brighton University has been told by the bank that it must increase its surplus in order to borrow money – which it intends to use for expansion, particularly investment in new buildings – the branch claim.
“The university management seem determined to try to force people out of their jobs despite alternatives being possible,” Brighton UCU said in a message to Brighton University students. “As your lecturers, the last thing we wish to do is disrupt your education, but we are concerned that if we do not oppose these redundancies, many more job losses will follow to the detriment of the education we can provide.”
In spite of 90 staff taking voluntary redundancy, two members of staff – both UCU members – remain under threat of compulsory redundancy, Brighton UCU pointed out.
“There is no justification for these redundancies,” it added. “Senior management want to cut the wage bill, but 90 members of staff have already left the university recently under a voluntary scheme. This has increased the pressure on workloads of many of your lecturers.”