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Falmouth University staff to strike over two-tier workforce plans

4 October 2022

UCU today announced that staff at Falmouth University will take three days of industrial action over the decision by the university to employ all new academic staff through a subsidiary company, Falmouth Staffing Ltd (FSL).

UCU members will walk out for three consecutive days from Monday October 17th until Wednesday October 19th to defend the employment status of staff teaching at the university if management does not reverse its decision. 

The announcement comes after 90% of members who voted said yes to strike action to protect hard-won terms and conditions for all academic staff at the university and push back against a two-tier workforce.  

In recent talks with the employer, UCU explained that employing staff under FSL is a threat to national bargaining arrangements between unions and the University and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA). The proposed arrangement will make it harder for UCU to represent members at FSL and is the beginning of an attack on hard-won national agreements.  

This fragmentation is already affecting members' employment terms, with all new academic staff employed since September 2021 denied access to the Teacher's Pension Scheme (TPS), forced onto a vastly inferior private pension. The TPS scheme has employer contributions of 23.6% whereas the FSL scheme starts at only 6%. 

Newly-employed academic staff will also lose continuity of service as they move from other post-92 universities, colleges or schools, and when they move on to other university posts. No other university in the South West region is taking this course of action. 

Falmouth tells job applicants 'there couldn't be a better time to work with us' and that the university 'will give you the platform you need to thrive'. It does not spell out the implications of being employed by a private subsidiary company rather than by the university itself. 

Falmouth UCU branch co-chair Tom Scott said: 'Our members are not taking industrial action lightly, but this is a serious issue not just for staff at Falmouth but also for our students. If management insists on employing staff under inferior conditions to those offered at other universities, and without the benefits that continuity of service offers academics elsewhere, this will quickly impact on the university's ability to hire and retain the most talented lecturers and researchers.  

'Staff should be properly employed by the university, not by a private subsidiary company that is able to evade national agreements on terms and conditions. It's not too late to avoid a strike, and we hope that management will think again about the implications of its decision to press ahead with a course of action that will damage the interests of both staff and students, as well as the university's reputation.'

Last updated: 5 October 2022