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Staff at University of Manchester vote to strike over jobs row

23 November 2015

UCU members at the University of Manchester have voted in favour of industrial action in a dispute over job security and proposed redundancies.

Over three-quarters (77%) of those who voted in the ballot backed strike action, with 86% backing action short of a strike. Union members will meet on Wednesday (25 November) to consider next steps.

The union claims that the row has arisen because the university has been ignoring agreed procedures and pushing staff into redundancy. In April, it was announced that all staff who had been on the university's redeployment register for a period of three months or more would face redundancy. This was a dramatic departure from the university's existing policy of allowing staff to remain on the register, without fear of redundancy, until redeployed in a new role.

UCU argued that university managers were failing to honour agreed procedures, and criticised the timing of the decision which was made as the policy was being revised. Instead of waiting for that process to be completed, university managers went ahead and notified 37 staff that they were at risk of redundancy.

The University of Manchester has previously prided itself on a policy of avoiding compulsory redundancies and promoting good industrial relations with trade unions. Former vice-chancellor Sir Alan Gilbert said that compulsory redundancies should be limited to extreme cases of professional misconduct, negligence or incompetence and had no relevance in a collegial community such as Manchester.

However, problems at the institution got worse in July when UCU was given just 40 minutes' notice that 219 staff working in IT were to be given notice of potential compulsory redundancy.

The two sides have been in talks to resolve the dispute with conciliatory service ACAS but, although some progress has been made, the union remains concerned about the impact of proposed changes on job security.

UCU regional official, Martyn Moss, said: 'The ballot result demonstrates our members' strong support for their colleagues and their anger at the threats which these changes pose to the job security of all staff.

'Since the ballot opened, we have made some progress to resolving this dispute through ACAS talks. We are hopeful we can make further progress so that we are not forced to resort to strike action.'

Last updated: 10 December 2015