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Students step in to host union meeting banned by Manchester Metropolitan University

26 April 2017

The University of Manchester's Students' Union has stepped in at the last minute to host a Manchester Metropolitan University staff meeting tomorrow. The students agreed to host the meeting after Manchester Metropolitan University slapped a controversial last-minute ban on UCU holding a meeting on its campus, as a dispute over job losses intensified.

UCU said the ban was an "unprecedented and worrying move that flew in the face of academic freedom". The meeting was due to take place tomorrow (Thursday) in the Business School at Manchester Metropolitan University.

The union has thanked Manchester University Students' Union for agreeing to host the meeting at such short notice. It will take place at the students' union building Academy 3 on Oxford Road at 1pm.

The union organised the meeting to discuss the latest steps in the dispute that centres on the future of over 160 academic staff based at the Crewe campus. UCU members at both the Crewe and Manchester sites are currently voting in a ballot over whether to support strike action. That ballot closes on Monday 8 May.

UCU says that the university's representatives have appeared to be willing to work towards compromises in meetings but then managers renege on promises just hours later. The union says the final straw came last month when the university rejected a proposal to postpone redundancies scheduled for this summer to allow both sides time to consider redeployment options and severance packages.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt, who will be speaking at the meeting, said: 'The ban was an unprecedented and worrying move from Manchester Metropolitan University that we feel flies in the face of the proud tradition of academic freedom that universities rightly champion. We are pleased the students at the University of Manchester could accommodate us at such short notice.

'We would rather the university met with us to discuss the issues instead of trying to silence its critics. We shall still be meeting and members will still be voting in the strike action ballot. We hope the university adopts a less aggressive approach in the future and remembers its responsibilities when it comes to debate and academic freedom.'

The university has almost £400m in reserves and UCU says it sees no rationale for refusing to pause on this summer's job losses or ruling out compulsory redundancies. The university confirmed on 10 February that the Crewe campus will close in August 2019 after current courses based there finish.

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