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The News Line: News UCU STRIKE BALLOT TO FIGHT MAN UNI SACKINGS ONE hundred and forty staff working at Manchester University have been threatened with the sack prompting their union, the University and College Union (UCU) to open a ballot for strike action against this massive attack.

UCU says there is no economic rationale for job cuts on such an enormous scale and has rejected the university’s claim that it needs to create ‘financial headroom’ in light of an ‘increasingly uncertain climate for universities’.

In its initial letter to the union announcing the redundancies, the university cited new government legislation and Brexit as underlying reasons for the cuts. But then six days later it denied Brexit was a factor.

The union says that the university is looking for reasons to justify unnecessary cuts. It is in a strong financial position having recorded a £36m surplus last year (2015/16) and its financial statement for the same year revealed it is sitting on £1.5bn of reserves.

UCU regional official, Martyn Moss, said: ‘We have tried our hardest to engage with the university management and will continue to do so but so far they have refused to back down on these massive compulsory job cuts so we have had no option but to call on our members to vote to strike.’

Meanwhile the UCU said yesterday that staff in further education colleges in England have seen their pay drop by 24 per cent in real-terms since 2009. ‘While the cost of living, expressed through the Retail Price Index (RPI), had increased by 27.6 per cent since 2009,’ UCU says, ‘pay had gone up by only 4 per cent.

‘This means that staff have suffered a real-terms drop of 23.6 per cent in their pay. College staff have fared even worse than public sector employees who have received a 6.3 per cent increase since 2009 – a real-terms drop of 21.3%.’

UCU head of further education Andrew Harden said: ‘As the cut to real pay for experienced lecturers since 2009 exceeds £8,000 it is little wonder that recruitment and retention issues are rife in our colleges. Things cannot continue as they are and I have written to colleges to ask them to give their negotiators a clear mandate for better pay at talks later this month.’


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