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Keele jobs fight continues with weekend protests

22 February 2008 | last updated: 14 December 2015

The battle to save jobs in Keele University's world-renowned School of Economic and Management Studies (SEMS) continues with protests planned for Sunday's university visit day.

Members of SEMS were on strike yesterday and were joined by UCU colleagues from other departments, members of trade union Unison and students at a lunchtime rally.

UCU members across Keele University yesterday began action short of a strike. That action will see them refuse to participate in Sunday's visit day activities. Although they will be out in force distributing leaflets to prospective students, and their parents, drawing attention to the proposed redundancies.

Yesterday's strike was solid, despite threats from the university to discipline staff involved. UCU today reiterated its commitment to fighting the redundancies and urged the vice-chancellor, Janet Finch, to meet and negotiate with union representatives.

Chair of the SEMS action committee at Keele University, Mike Ironside, said: 'We call on Janet Finch to cease her confrontational stance, to withdraw the threat of compulsory redundancies, and to negotiate directly with UCU instead of hiding behind her hired intermediaries. Until she does that we will continue with our action.'

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'UCU members at Keele University do not want to be taking this action, but the university has left them with no alternative. Keele members have the full support of the national union and we will be out in force on 3 April if the vice-chancellor persists with this unnecessary and confrontational approach to staff cuts.'

In December the union accused the university of ignoring normal procedures to rush through the proposed redundancies after Keele's university council established an unprecedented 'redundancy committee', which bypassed normal decision-making processes.

The rushed redundancies plan is not the first time Keele University has been accused of ignoring standard practice to try and push through controversial plans. During the pay dispute of 2006, 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 decision 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.

The action short of a strike is designed to cause the maximum impact on the university without disrupting the education of students. That action will include:

  • Non-cooperation with the institutional audit
  • Non-cooperation with the development of new degree programmes for the new Business School
  • Non-participation in learning and teaching committees and the design and approval of a new university-wide degree structure due to come into effect in September 2009
  • Non-participation in visit days and open days
  • Non-compliance with the collection of data for full economic costing.

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