The University and College Union (UCU) has formally initiated ballot proceedings to determine whether academic staff should strike in response to higher education funding cuts and looming job losses.
The outcome of the ballot will govern whether students’ lectures, seminars and workshops will be disrupted. The trade union for academic staff has 550 members at the University of Sussex.
The call to vote on strike action comes after UCU members voted in favour of industrial action at Leeds University earlier this month, where up to 700 members of staff face the risk of redundancy. Academic staff at Leeds are to hold three one-day strikes on the 25 February and the 2 and 4 March.
UCU Branch President at the University of Sussex, Paul Cecil, told the Badger that UCU “will continue in talks with the management in an effort to remove the current threat to jobs and avert any industrial action.
“We have to be clear though that the University plans threaten nearly 10% of academic posts plus many support posts, and we simply do not accept that the current excellent education that our colleagues provide can be sustained under such conditions. We note for instance that cuts in options for next year have already been notified to students in some at risk areas. Our plans address these key concerns of students, which is why it is so important that we reach agreement on an alternative to the draconian cuts that are currently proposed.”
The university has issued the following statement to the Badger: “The University has consulted, and is continuing to consult, with each of the three recognised trades unions – UCU, Unison and Unite – on the proposal for change, and that includes consultation with a view to reaching agreement on ways and means of avoiding the proposed redundancies, reducing their number and mitigating their impact.
“By making strategic changes, however difficult this may be, the University will be better placed to achieve a sustainable future in what are – and will continue to be for some time to come – very challenging times for higher education.”