Over 200 workers packed into a UCU union meeting at Leeds university last week and voted overwhelmingly to back a ballot for industrial action against cuts. They also voted to show no confidence in the vice‑chancellor, Michael Arthur.
“The room was overflowing,” Malcolm Povey, the UCU branch president, told Socialist Worker.
“There was a sea of hands as people voted for action. We are now in the process of making sure that members’ details are up to date in preparation for a ballot.”
Union reps say that tens of people are joining the union every week.
Leeds university management wants to cut a shocking £35 million from the university’s annual budget and want cuts to begin in January. The plans put hundreds of jobs and course places at risk.
And, as workers point out, this comes on top of cuts already in place.
“We have already had to make 5 percent ‘efficiency savings’ over the past twelve months and 54 jobs went this summer,” said Malcolm.
“The mood is very angry. Our meeting also voted overwhelmingly for a national higher education conference and for the union to develop a national strategy to fight job losses.
“The cuts are happening everywhere and we need more than a local response.”
Workers are now waiting for official agreement to begin a ballot. In the meantime, they are holding departmental meetings where lecturers can discuss the dispute and building the fight against the cuts.
Workers and students were due to lobby the university council on Thursday of this week—assemble at 4.45pm at the Parkinson steps.