Escalating Dispute over Redundancies at University of Brighton

22 November 2017

Escalating Dispute over Redundancies at South Coast University – Crisis Hits the University of Brighton

 

Lectures for Thousands of Students to be Cancelled

Strike Action to Hit the University this Thursday and Friday

Work to Rule from Next Week

Action Set to Escalate in December

Dispute to Escalate Further in January

Dismay at the Ineffectual Management of the University

Widespread Disillusionment and a General Sense of Malaise

  

At 1pm this Thursday (23rd November) hundreds of lecturers at the University of Brighton will stop their classes, and will walk out on strike. They will then form picket lines at the entrances to University buildings. The following day, picket lines will operate from early in the morning, and the University will be effectively closed until the following week.

Members of the lecturers’ University and Colleges Union (UCU) are in dispute about compulsory redundancies. This one-and-a-half days of strike action this week will be followed by a ‘work-to-contract’ from next Monday. Unless there is a settlement, the dispute will then escalate in December with a two-day strike, and will further escalate from January.

Thousands of students will be affected by the cancellation of lectures and seminars, and the absence of pre and post-essay tutorials. Many of the University’s research seminars will also be affected.

The action follows a ballot of UCU members which returned majorities in favour of action of more than 85%.

The union argues that the University management’s threat to dismiss academic staff is entirely unjustified, and indicates the management’s determination to end the ‘no redundancies’ policy that the University has maintained for the last 25 years. Ninety staff left the University in September under a voluntary severance scheme as part of an effort by management to cut the wage bill. Some of those who volunteered did so under threat of being made redundant if they did not. So inept has been the handling of this process that it has already resulted in the loss to the University of a research grant of half a million pounds, and the closure of the foreign languages department.

Chair of the UCU Coordinating Committee, Dr. Mark Abel said, “The UCU objects to more staff being forced out of their jobs given the number that have already left. The University is not overstaffed. In some cases the work of those who have left is now being done by temporary hourly-paid lecturers. It is a casualization of the teaching staff with adverse effects both for students’ education, and for the contractual terms of staff.”

Academic staff at the University believe that if they don’t resist these sackings, the management will attempt to impose many more job losses as part of a process to casualise the workforce. Dr. Nadia Edmond of the School of Education at Brighton voiced a general concern of staff, “It seems that the management’s goal is to increase the annual profit of the institution whatever the cost to the quality of the education we offer to our students. That is simply unacceptable.”

Last year, despite a protracted campaign by the local community and the Council and supported by the UCU, the University of Brighton announced the closure of its campus at Hastings. The last students there are due to graduate in June 2019. Recently, the University had its planning application approved for a new £300 million building development at its Moulsecoomb site in Brighton.

Staff and students fear that this may be a prelude to a future ‘rationalisation’ of the University’s sites, with the closure of the Eastbourne campus high on the agenda.

Messages of support:

Dr. Mark Abel, Chair UCU University of Brighton

m.abel@brighton.ac.uk

Tel.: 07811 210036

 

Tom Hickey. Press Officer, UCU University of Brighton

t.hickey@brighton.ac.uk

Tel.: 07816 921105

 

Dr. Nadia Edmond, School of Education, University of Brighton

n.edmond@brighton.ac.uk

Tel.: 07717 192002

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