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University of Leicester staff vote for industrial action over job cuts

14 April 2021

UCU members at the University of Leicester have voted for industrial action in a dispute over compulsory redundancies.

Around 70% of members who voted are willing to take strike action, with 84% backing action short of a strike, which could involve a marking and assessment boycott. The result comes after management were accused of bullying tactics during the ballot.

The university has threatened 145 staff with compulsory redundancy, although that number is now slightly lower due to some staff taking voluntary redundancy or accepting inferior contracts. Managers deny there are any financial reasons for planned redundancies - and refuse to share data on finances with campus trade unions. But the university's 2019/20 financial statements show the institution is having to borrow money in order to remain financially viable. The accounts also make clear that 'further savings and efficiencies' might be required.

UCU said the result was an emphatic endorsement for action and that its members were willing to boycott marking and assessments unless the university withdraws all threats of compulsory redundancy. It also said it has a mandate to take further industrial action, including strike action, if needed.

Leicester UCU chair Dr Sarah Seaton said: 'UCU members at the University of Leicester have made it overwhelmingly clear they are willing to take industrial action to protect jobs. Vice-chancellor Nishan Canagarajah has ignored a tsunami of dissent whilst trying to push through these cuts and staff believe the university has tried to intimidate them into submission. But we will fight to protect colleagues' jobs, and are willing to boycott all marking and assessments unless the university withdraws its threats of compulsory redundancy. We have a mandate for sustained industrial action, including strike action, if the university continues down this path.'

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'The University of Leicester is treating redundancies as the first option rather than a last resort, but our members will not let staff pay the price for poor decisions by management. The vice-chancellor must halt these compulsory redundancies to protect teaching and research at Leicester, and prevent any further damage to its reputation.'

Last updated: 16 April 2021