Strikes suspended as Winchester University rules out compulsory job cuts

23 May 2019

Five days of strikes due to start on 28 May at Winchester University have been suspended after the university agreed to rule out compulsory job losses.

UCU members were due to walk out on Tuesday 28 May, Wednesday 29 May, Monday 3 June, Tuesday 4 June and Wednesday 5 June. Staff were also going to start "action short of a strike" from Thursday 30 May. This would have involved strictly working to contract, not covering for absences and boycotting open days. Both the strikes and action short of a strike have been suspended.

Winchester University had said it wants to get rid of 55 posts - around 10% of the workforce. It cited increased costs in pensions as a reason for the drastic move*. Students had expressed their support for staff and held a demonstration last month. The university had also come under fire for its handling of the process, having revealed all the staff at risk of redundancy in an email.

The union called on the university to rule out compulsory job losses as part of a restructure programme. When it failed to do so, UCU members overwhelmingly backed strikes and the other forms of action. Four-fifths (80%) of members who voted backed strike action and 93% backed action short of a strike.

UCU regional official Moray McAulay said: 'We are pleased the university has belatedly ruled out compulsory redundancies and we are now in a position to cancel next week's industrial action. It is of course frustrating that it took an overwhelming mandate for action that forced this decision, but now we look forward to working with the university.

'This dispute should act as a warning to universities not to rush into making dangerous knee-jerk decisions when faced with difficulties, but instead to work with us.'

* 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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