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Staff at University of Manchester vote 'yes' to strike action over proposed 140 job losses

4 October 2017

Members of UCU at the University of Manchester are planning to strike later this month after they overwhelmingly backed industrial action in a row over 140 job losses.

A massive majority of members who voted (87%) backed industrial action in a ballot which closed at midday today. Strike action has been planned for Monday 23 October and Tuesday 24 October, and staff will then begin working to rule from Wednesday 25 October. Of those who voted, 93% backed action short of a strike.

Union members were also today planning to lobby the Board of Governors at a meeting which may make a decision taken on authorising the redundancies. The proposed redundancies are in the university's School of Arts, Languages and Cultures (35 posts) the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health (65 posts) and Alliance Manchester Business School (40 posts).

UCU has questioned the university's rationale for the job cuts. In a recent survey of staff conducted by union members, 88% of respondents said they did not believe they have been provided with a convincing rationale for the job losses. The union also says staff were not given any opportunity to have any say on the proposals which were drawn up by senior managers, and 87% of staff surveyed reported that management had not adequately responded to concerns raised through internal university structures.

The union has rejected the university's claim that it needs to create "financial headroom" in light of an increasingly uncertain climate for universities. It is in a strong financial position having recorded a £36m surplus last year (2015/16) and its financial statement for the same year revealed it is sitting on £1.5bn of reserves. The 140 redundancies would be followed by the creation of 100 plus new early career academic appointments so the money saved would be comparatively small in relation to the university's total budget.

In its initial letter to the union announcing the redundancies, the university cited new government legislation and Brexit as underlying reasons for the cuts. But then six days later it denied Brexit was a factor.

UCU regional official, Martyn Moss, said: 'Today's decisive ballot result reflects the strength of feeling amongst our members who have been incensed at every aspect of these proposals to slash jobs.

'The University of Manchester has been plunged into crisis because of a management strategy that bypassed the professionals who work in the affected areas. These redundancy proposals lack a convincing rationale and staff are not confident that the process will be fairly and consistently implemented.

'Striking is always a last resort and there is still the opportunity to avoid it. The University of Manchester must take compulsory redundancies off the table.'

UCU members were due to gather in the Old Quadrangle off Oxford Road at 1.30pm today to lobby the Board of Governors.

Last updated: 21 June 2021