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Taking action in higher education

Winchester University staff balloted for strike action

23 April 2019 | last updated: 22 April 2019

UCU members at Winchester University are being balloted for strike action in a row over jobs. The university has said it wants to get rid of 55 posts - around 10% of the workforce. It has cited increased costs in pensions as a reason for the drastic move.

The union has said the university must avoid knee-jerk reactions to changes in pension costs that will affect around 70 universities and rule out compulsory job losses. The ballot opens today (Tuesday) and closes on Thursday 9 May. UCU has warned that if the university refuses to rule out compulsory redundancies it is likely to face disruption later in May.

Students have expressed their support for staff and held a demonstration last month. While the university has come under fire for its bungled handling of the process having revealed all the staff at risk of redundancy in an email.

UCU acting general secretary Paul Cottrell said: 'Winchester University faces strike action if it refuses to rule out compulsory redundancies. There is no need for this knee-jerk reaction to changes to pension costs and this strike ballot should act as a warning to other universities tempted to use the changes to axe jobs.

'Universities need to work with us to get the government to fund pensions for university staff, not put staff jobs or opportunities for students at risk.'

In a letter to the union, the university set out plans for 55 job losses, 48 of which it classed as academic and research posts. In offering reasons behind the decision, the university said it was "facing a serious financial challenge, arising mainly from the unexpected large increase in employer contributions to the Teachers' Pension Scheme".  

 

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