UCU members back strike action plans at Manchester Metropolitan University

27 January 2017 | last updated: 31 January 2017

UCU members at Manchester Metropolitan University have overwhelmingly backed a motion that will trigger a strike action ballot if a dispute over the future of Crewe campus and the staff who work there cannot be resolved.

The university confirmed it was consulting on plans to withdraw from the Crewe campus at a board of governors meeting in November. A final decision on the future of the university in Crewe is expected at a board of governors meeting on Friday 10 February.

UCU members from both the Manchester and Crewe sites backed a motion* that calls on members to proceed to an indicative e-ballot and then a ballot for strike action if staff are threatened with compulsory redundancy.

The motion also called on members to lobby the governors' meeting on 10 February and said that, with almost £400m in reserves, the university should commit to avoiding any compulsory job losses.

The union said it was keen to continue to work with the university to avoid compulsory redundancies. It said it was happy to explore transferring courses from Crewe to Manchester and to look at redeployment opportunities or a voluntary severance scheme for Crewe-based staff.

UCU regional official Martyn Moss said: 'UCU members from across Manchester Metropolitan University have made clear their opposition to the university's plans. We want to continue to work with the university to explore alternatives to compulsory redundancies, but management need to understand the strength of feeling among staff.

'UCU members will trigger a strike ballot if the university refuses to rule out compulsory redundancies.'

* Motion in full

1.This branch condemns the moves to close the Cheshire campus by the VC and the Board of Governors. We believe that this is unjustified and goes against the stated aim of the University to widen participation to potential students who may not usually access Higher Education.

2.  We believe any closure will lead to a potential loss of unique and distinctive provision which produces positive outcomes for students and benefits for the academic life of the University as a whole.

3.  Over 400 members of staff are faced with an uncertain future due to the proposed withdrawal from the Cheshire campus. The University has at this stage refused to rule out compulsory redundancies.

4.  We recognize that the Employer has engaged with the recognized Trade Unions in order to try to find alternatives to compulsory redundancies and has agreed to continue these discussions and efforts after the end of the legally defined collective consultation.

The Branch negotiators will continue to pursue options which will avoid compulsory redundancies including:

-                developing arguments for courses/programmes to transfer to Manchester

-                Redeployment, with priority going to MMU Cheshire members at risk for all available vacancies

-                Voluntary Severance and extension of Voluntary Severance to Manchester, where colleagues in Manchester wishing take Voluntary Severance would create a role for a Crewe-based member of staff.

6.  This branch reaffirms its opposition to compulsory redundancies.  We believe that an employer which has £378.9 million total reserves (2015/16) can and should commit to avoiding any and all compulsory redundancies.

In the absence of such a commitment this branch therefore agrees to:

i.              Ask the National Union to organize an indicative e-ballot of all members of MMU UCU with the following question: "In the event that any member of UCU is threatened with compulsory redundancy, would you be willing to vote in a Statutory Industrial Action Ballot for action up to and including strike action and to take part in such action if the result of the ballot was affirmative?"

ii.            The branch also agrees to urge members to vote yes to the question and urges all members to argue for a positive vote.

iii.          The branch further grants the Branch Committee the power to determine when the point has been reached whereby (assuming a positive outcome to the e-ballot) the trigger point has been reached to necessitate a request be made to the National Union for a Statutory Industrial Action ballot.

iv.          The Branch Committee will be mindful of the fact that the closure process will be spaced over a number of years so will look to re-affirm its mandate at future members' meetings if required by the passage of time.

7.  In campaigning for support of the policy of no compulsory redundancy the branch agrees:

i.              to respond to any threat of compulsory redundancies by immediately lodging a dispute with management

ii.            to continue with a lively campaign with regular and open campaign group meetings at both Manchester and Crewe

iii.          to call a lobby of the Board of Governors' meeting on 10 February, calling on other local branches, students, TUC and other campaign groups for support

iv.          to keep under consideration possibility of calling for future greylisting of MMU

v.            to raise the issue urgently in the press and to request direct intervention from the General Secretary

vi.          to raise the issue of MMU Cheshire redundancies as a "local dispute of national significance", as per UCU policy.

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