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Strike action on the cards as Swansea University pulls plug on 90-year jobs agreement

27 October 2009

Union says trust between university and staff has gone, with emergency meeting called for Wednesday to discuss action.

UCU today warned that Swansea University would face likely industrial action in a row over job losses. Late yesterday afternoon the university's ruling body, Swansea University Council, voted marginally in favour of plans to establish an unprecedented redundancy committee.
The decision marks an historic policy shift for the university, which in the whole of its 90-year existence has had a policy of no compulsory redundancies. The university had reassured staff that the institution was financially sound and would explore all other options before considering redundancies. Staff complained today that those promises now seemed rather hollow with their jobs on the line.
The union warned that the decision to press ahead with the redundancies would mark the end of any trust between the university management and staff and would lead to likely industrial unrest at the institution. UCU members at Swansea University will now decide what action to take in protest at the decision. The union said that at this stage nothing had been ruled out with more details likely to emerge after an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) that has been called for 1pm tomorrow (Wednesday).
The union has described the process used by the university to draw up the redundancy plans, as deeply flawed. The union revealed that the council rejected a UCU request to allow its president, Chris Whyley, to attend yesterday's meeting as an observer. However, there were still significant concerns raised by some council members about the plans.
UCU president at Swansea, Chris Whyley, who was barred from attending the council meeting as an observer, said: 'The redundancy plans have broken the mutual trust and confidence that existed between management and staff. In the past we have managed these matters by negotiation, but now management does not seem to want to budge an inch.
'All staff at Swansea should be worried; their jobs are at risk and they won't now know from one day to the next whether their "permanent" contracts really are permanent. This is simply not on and we will be sitting down to decide what action we will be taking over the next few days. I certainly would not rule out strike action.'
Andrew Morgan, UCU vice-president at Swansea, said: 'When the university is, as management continues to assure us, financially sound there seems little rationale to axe staff.  We were told that redundancies were a last resort and that redeployment and other less drastic arrangements would be sought in the first instance. The decision to set up a formal redundancy committee is a real smack in the face for staff and it makes it very hard for us to trust anything the university says at the moment.'
Last updated: 11 December 2015