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Taking action in higher education

Keele University faces strike action over redundancies

18 December 2007 | last updated: 14 December 2015

UCU has stepped up its fight against redundancies at Keele University. The local Keele UCU branch last night (Monday) voted to support strike action if the university presses ahead with plans to sack staff.

The university's plans have left more than half (38) of the 67 academic staff in Keele's world-renowned School of Economic and Management Studies' courses facing redundancy. The union has accused the university of ignoring normal procedures to rush through the proposed redundancies.

Keele University Council established an unprecedented 'redundancy committee' on 6 December, bypassing the normal consultation and decision-making processes at the university's senate or faculty meetings.

This is not the first time the institution has been accused of ignoring standard practice to try and push through controversial plans. During last year's pay dispute, where lecturers were not marking coursework or setting exams, Keele University agreed to award degrees based on work already submitted, rather than wait for a student's full marks.

That policy prompted serious questions about the potential quality of degrees at Keele with the Quality Assurance Agency refusing to back the plans. Fortunately the dispute was resolved before graduation day.

Keele UCU president, Colin Whitson, said: 'Despite the university's best efforts to push these measures through without following the normal procedures, and during a particularly quiet time of year, Keele UCU members have made their feelings quite clear. At a packed meeting they voted unanimously to ballot for strike action and to call for a national boycott of Keele University if the university does not reverse its decision.'

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Keele University can rest assured that if does decide to try and push through these hurried and nonsensical redundancy plans that we will fight them all the way. Trying to rush them through at a quiet time of the year and outside its own internal structures is cowardly and offensive. Following last year's national pay dispute, we are aware of poor short-term decision making by Keele University's management, but we still find it incredible.'