Socialist Worker

Anger grows in universities as attacks step up

Issue No. 2187

Resistance to the cuts across higher education is growing. Lecturers at Leeds university are coming to the end of their strike ballot and more groups of lecturers are preparing to join the fight.

Malcolm Povey, the president of Leeds University UCU union, spoke to Socialist Worker in a personal capacity. He said, “Lecturers balloted to save up to 700 jobs.

“In a great campaign to get the vote out, UCU reps joined regional and national officers and marched the corridors and buildings of the huge campus, discussing the ballot with members.

“Well over 1,000 members have now been approached—either face to face, over the phone or both.”

The ballot result was to be announced on Wednesday of this week.

“If members vote yes, and the university does not back down, it is likely to face strike action within a couple of weeks,” Malcolm added.

Other UCU branches are moving towards action.

A UCU member at University College London (UCL) said, “Lecturers here have voted unanimously to begin a ballot for college-wide industrial action against the threat of compulsory redundancies.

“Around 120 UCU members attended an extraordinary general meeting on Thursday of last week. Lecturers in the Faculty of Life Sciences (FLS) called the meeting.

“Their faculty faces a 10 percent cut in its budget—a total of £3 million, out of which £1.5 million will be made through “staff savings”.

“UCL management are taking on one division or faculty at a time to try and isolate members. The first major division they targeted was the Information Systems Division.

“Workers there threatened industrial action, helping to prevent ten threatened compulsory redundancies.

“FLS management organised an effectively secret college council meeting to authorise the creation of a redundancy committee. This body will allow it to make compulsory redundancies if they don’t get enough volunteers.

“There have never been compulsory redundancies among academic staff at UCL. Academic and support workers are united in defence of jobs.”

Lecturers at the University of Sussex have also voted to ballot for industrial action to save jobs.

UCU members held an emergency meeting on Wednesday of last week and voted overwhelmingly to ballot if management do not lift a threat of compulsory job cuts.

At the same time, Sussex UCU has produced alternative proposals to ease the university’s “financial difficulties”.

Its plans include offering workers the “option” of working part-time instead of full-time or taking unpaid leave.

But trade unions should not be working with bosses to impose cuts on workers.

UCU members at Sussex have made clear their determination to fight. The union should begin the ballot that workers have voted for and go all-out to stop the cuts.

Workers and students at the University of Gloucestershire protested at the university council on Wednesday of last week over plans to cut jobs and departments.

The university wants to close campuses in Cheltenham and London. Now management have announced plans to “restructure” as well.

Take Back Education: a teach-in to build resistance to cuts in education. Saturday 27 February, 11am- 4pm, King’s College London.

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Tue 2 Feb 2010, 19:19 GMT
Issue No. 2187
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