Strike ballot on plan to axe academic posts at UCLan

UCLan student protest
UCLan student protest

UNIVERSITY staff are being balloted over strike action.

The University and College Union is asking members at the University of Central Lancashire to vote in a row over job losses and changes to agreements over pay and grading for academic staff.

The dispute, over plans to axe up to 75 posts, comes as UCU members are already involved in industrial action over a national one per cent pay offer, which saw two of three two-hour stoppages last week.

UCU wants the university to withdraw the threat of compulsory redundancies and scrap plans to alter job descriptions for academic staff, saying the changing of job descriptions goes against agreements already in place between the university and the union, and is an attempt to get teaching done on the cheap.

It is also feared academic job cuts would also affect the university’s bid to become a world-class institution in teaching and research.

UCU regional official, Martyn Moss, said: “Staff at UCLan are having a very difficult time of it at the moment. Their pay has been slashed in real terms and now more than 400 of them are at risk of losing their jobs as part of the university’s latest reorganisation wheeze.

UCLan has not made the case for any job losses and we have serious concerns that this is an exercise in getting rid of experienced senior academic staff and replacing them with cheaper options and casual contracts. UCU members at UCLan have made it clear they will fight any compulsory redundancies and will take further strike action to defend their jobs and conditions unless senior management see sense.”

A spokesman for UCLan said: “For the last six months the university has been consulting with staff and unions about the right shape and size of the workforce in order to deliver the best student experience, making best use of resources available, given the fall in student recruitment experienced across the HE sector in 2012-13.

“We are still consulting on our proposals and we anticipate the clear majority of any staff changes required will be achieved through voluntary redundancy to ballot on strike action now is pre-emptive and a distraction from our shared mission of ensuring a superlative experience for all our students.”

He added: “Inevitably we have had to consider some staff reductions. Initially we thought just over 70 posts could have been affected. However, during the consultation process this number has been reduced to 52 posts out of a total of over 1,200 academic positions. We are still consulting and are working hard with the unions to try to avoid any compulsory redundancies.

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