Workers at the University of Liverpool headed back to the picket line on Wednesday to begin 10 days of strikes against compulsory redundancies.
Bosses wanted to sack 47 people in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, when the dispute began in May. The pressure of strikes and a marking boycott has slashed that figure down to just two.
But the UCU union members are determined to fight on until that number is zero.
Mark O’Brien, a UCU member, told Socialist Worker, “On Tuesday we found out the number of compulsory redundancies being planned had gone from six to two. University management then came to us to ask us to suspend the strike.
“They met with the negotiators but still wouldn’t move on the last two jobs.
Workers gathered for a meeting of over 230 members, where 97 percent voted to go ahead with the strike.
Mark added that the mood among members is upbeat. “On Wednesday we had over 45 people on the picket,” he said. “That was a lot more than we had in our first round of strikes in May and June.
“We’ve also seen an increase in members joining our organising WhatsApp and daily meetings of over 200 people almost every day to discuss the dispute. This is encouraging.
“The interest with the strike isn’t going down at all.”
The strikes will fall during a number of critical events in the university’s calendar, including clearing and confirmation for new students.
At the start of July the university was unable to hand out final marks and degrees for around 1,500 students due to the marking boycott.
Mark said this has hit the university hard. “Our action has essentially stopped the university producing graduates, which is of course part of the universities’ business model,” he explained.
“It really shows how powerful university workers can be in disrupting how universities’ make their money.”
“We aren’t complacent, but it’s completely possible we could win now.”
Strikes and a marking boycott at the University of Liverpool have already shown what bold sustained action can achieve. Workers must keep pushing until zero jobs are at risk—and the whole trade union movement should support them.
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