Socialist Worker

Open University workers keep up action with rolling strikes to stop cuts

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2482

Open University workers on strike in London on Tuesday of this week

Open University workers on strike in London on Tuesday of this week (Pic: Michael Bradley)

Open University (OU) workers have begun a week of rolling strikes in protest at plans to close seven regional OU centres and slash 500 jobs.

The UCU union members struck in London on Tuesday of this week and in Birmingham on Monday of this week.

Further strike days are planned this week in Oxford, Leeds and Gateshead.

And workers in Cambridge, Bristol, Nottingham, Manchester, Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Milton Keynes were set to stage 24-hour strikes throughout next week.

A national strike on Wednesday of last week kicked off the dispute.

Alison Higgs was picketing at the OU centre in Camden, central London. She told Socialist Worker, “People are really angry. Management wants to go more towards online only courses. It is vandalising the structure and the purpose of the OU.”

Bosses want to close down regional OU centres in Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Gateshead, Leeds, London and Oxford.

Pickets were out across Britain including in Nottingham, Milton Keynes and Leeds. Strikers in Leeds leafletted passers-by who were shocked to hear of the planned cuts.


Pickets in London were boosted by supportive hoots from passing cars. UCU members working outside the OU, as well as local Unison and NUT union members, came to show their support.

Anne Martin, who’s worked at the OU for 15 years, said the cuts had left workers “devastated”.

“About 100 staff here could lose their jobs,” she said. “It’s very stressful.”

Anne said she would “definitely support more action” to stop the cuts. “I’ll do anything it takes,” she said.

Workers have also begun a work to rule. UCU rep Isabella said this would have a big impact because “we are always working more than our contracted hours.”

Strikers criticised the OU for pushing its firm Future Learn—a website offering free online courses.

As striker Frank put it, “This private company aims to provide a cheaper model of education, increasingly online. The OU will become a publishing house rather than an educational organisation.”

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