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University of Liverpool hit with global boycott

9 July 2021

UCU hit the University of Liverpool with the ultimate sanction of an international academic boycott over the university's refusal to halt the sacking of 21 health staff.

The global boycott is the most recent escalation by the union in the long running dispute. It means UCU is asking its members, other trade unions, labour movement organisations and the international academic community to support its members at Liverpool in any way possible, including by:

  • not applying for any advertised jobs at Liverpool
  • not agreeing to speak at or organise academic or other conferences at Liverpool which are outside of contract
  • not accepting new invitations to give lectures at Liverpool
  • not accepting new positions as visiting professors or researchers at Liverpool
  • not accepting invitations outside of contract to write for any academic journal which is edited at or produced by Liverpool
  • not accepting new contracts as external examiners for taught courses at Liverpool

Originally, at the height of the second wave of the Covid pandemic, the university tried to sack 47 staff in the faculty of health and life sciences. This has now fallen to 21 after a campaign of industrial action by staff.

This week students slammed the university's management over the ongoing chaos caused by the compulsory redundancies, after an ongoing marking boycott led to around 1,500 students not receiving their degrees. The university is withholding 100% of pay from staff taking part in the lawful boycott, in a lockout intended to force staff to bring their campaign to an end. Tomorrow, staff and students will be demonstrating against the cuts. The Trades Union Congress has asked trade unionists from other sectors to join the demonstration.

Around 1,300 UCU members at the university also went on strike for three consecutive weeks from Monday 24 May to Friday 11 June.

External examiners, 62 staff in the faculty of health and life sciences, international experts on the use of responsible research metrics and the Liverpool Guild of Students, which speaks for the student body, have all written to the university to warn that the university's actions are likely to imperil academic standards and have called on management to end the dispute.

The university has refused to meet with UCU to resolve the dispute, or to allow ACAS to mediate between UCU and management.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'Staff and students are united in opposing the University of Liverpool's disgraceful cuts. UCU will not stand by whilst management threaten the academic integrity of the institution and withhold pay from staff fighting to defend their colleagues' jobs and students' education. It is very simple for university managers to end this dispute, they need to meet with us and work with us to save jobs and protect academic standards.

'We are calling on academics throughout the world to join us in boycotting the university until management come to the negotiating table.'

University of Liverpool UCU president Anthony O'Hanlon said: 'The senior leadership team at the University of Liverpool has already faced widespread condemnation from the international academic community.  They have failed to heed those warnings and now face a major escalation of this dispute and damage to the university's international reputation.

'Senior leadership must realise they are not immune from criticism and they cannot treat their staff in such a despicable way, without expecting to face serious consequences.'

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