Socialist Worker

Strike threat at Soas university stops redundancies

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2723

Workers and students at Soas University of London during an unofficial walkout against bosses’ attacks in January

Workers and students at Soas University of London during an unofficial walkout against bosses’ attacks in January (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Workers at Soas University of London have pushed back compulsory redundancies by threatening strikes.

As attacks on jobs and pay sweep across universities, the Unison union members have shown it’s possible to resist.

Unison members at Soas had planned a two‑day walkout from Tuesday of this week after voting overwhelmingly for strikes.

Bosses had wanted to impose up to 88 compulsory redundancies in professional services.

These could have included cleaners, caterers, admin workers and library staff.

Unison members voted for strikes by 75 percent, on a 72 percent turnout. On top of the walkout, they had also planned to begin action short of a strike including a work to rule.

The union called off the action after bosses last week confirmed that no professional services worker would be made compulsorily redundant during a restructure.

Workers who were facing redundancy will now be offered an extended redeployment period.

Soas Unison said the vote for strikes was “absolutely pivotal” in pushing bosses back.

Prepared 

“We have shown that if we organise and are prepared to take robust strike action we can win,” the branch added. “Hopefully our success will inspire other workers facing cuts and redundancies. Strikes work. Redundancies can be fought.”

Workers may still face issues such as changes to shifts and rising workloads as some workers leave voluntarily.

The victory over compulsory redundancies should be used to give confidence to workers to fight over these issues too.

At a victory rally on Tuesday, Soas Unison branch secretary Sandy Nicoll said, “When we announced our first strike days, to hit the busiest enrolment days, management knew we could shut it down and immediately started to back off.

“Serious organised strikes, even the threat of it, can win.”

Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell told the rally, “This is a huge victory.

“I think you’ve inspired others.

“We need some victories to show people what trade unionists can do working together.”

Sandy added, “Our victory is just a small spark. We need much bigger resistance."


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