Sussex UCU votes for strike action
Last Wednesday 3 March, the University and College Union (UCU) at Sussex voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action in their fight to save jobs and services at the university.
Turnout totalled a record 80.9 per cent, the highest the union has ever received in a ballot.
The union said the unprecedented turnout was indicative of the strength of feeling among UCU members over the savage funding cuts and damaging job losses proposed.
Over three-quarters of staff who voted supported strike action, and more than 82 per cent agreed to action short of a strike.
Sussex UCU said it still hoped the dispute could be “resolved without any disruption.”
Paul Cecil, president of Sussex UCU, said: “UCU members have today delivered a clear mandate for industrial action at the University of Sussex. We thank our members for participating in such large numbers and reiterate our belief that a negotiated settlement is still possible if the university steps back from implementing its job-cut plans, votes to delay the decision, and considers our alternatives.”
University of Sussex Students’ Union (USSU) president, Tom Wills, offered a statement of support, declaring, “We are right behind Sussex staff and the principled stand they are taking in defence of their jobs and our education.”
“We will hold the university management responsible for the devastation that will be wrought on our education if they succeed in pushing through with their cuts proposals.
“Strike action by staff is the key to winning this battle and we will do everything we can to support it.”
A Sussex spokesman said the proposals were being consulted on and that no decisions would be made until the university’s council meets on 12 March.
He added: “We have been notified of the result of the ballot by UCU members. We have already made clear and repeat our position that ballots for industrial action are not the way in which the process will be influenced.”
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, conceded that industrial action is always a last resort but insisted that the proposed job losses will “impact massively across the University of Sussex and result in a far worse experience for students.”