Strike action in higher education

Strikes on the cards at Winchester University after UCU members back industrial action

9 May 2019 | last updated: 10 May 2019

Industrial action is on the cards at Winchester University after UCU members overwhelmingly backed strikes and action short of a strike

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 and rule out compulsory job losses if it wants to avoid disruption.

UCU said members will finalise details of the industrial action in the coming days. As well as strikes likely to hit lectures this term, the union is looking at other forms of action such as working to contract, not covering for absences and boycotting open days.

Four-fifths (80%) of members who voted backed strike action and 93% backed action short of a strike. Students have expressed their support for staff and held a demonstration last month. The university has also come under fire for its bungled handling of the process, having revealed all the staff at risk of redundancy in an email.

UCU regional official Moray McAulay said: 'Winchester University faces strike action later this month if it refuses to rule out compulsory redundancies. There is no need for this knee-jerk reaction to changes to pension costs and the overwhelming support for industrial action should act as a warning to the university.

'Nobody wants to see disruption, but UCU members at Winchester feel they have been left with no other option. The ball is now in the university's court and we hope they will come back to us with proposals that rule out the need for strikes.'


* 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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