University of Birmingham threatens BUCU right to strike

Following the November 30 strike, BUCU were sent a confidential document by UoB HR which threatens BUCU through claims that members behaved unlawfully and/or unreasonably during the picketing on 30th November.

This is somewhat surprising given that security guards were waving cars through, encouraging those vehicles coming into the University to speed up as they approached the picket line. This seemed a deliberate attempt by Security guards to undermine the industrial action. This was without due care and attention for any person’s health and safety. Despite attempts by UCU pickets to seek an end to this dangerous practice on the day, University representatives repeatedly refused to consider issues beyond the access of vehicles to the University. Thus, whilst UCU pickets continued to express their concern with the health and safety of both students and pickets in the vicinity of the East Gate, they were repeatedly ignored.

Further, security staff behaved in a threatening and intimidating manner towards people on the picket line, using video equipment in a rather aggressive and ‘close-up’ fashion to ‘capture’ images of BUCU members talking to people.

BUCU’s recent members’ survey found that 68% of our members suffered from high levels of stress as a result of their employment duties at the University of Birmingham, at excessive levels or (for 45% of members) with detrimental effects upon their health and well-being. Given the values that appear to inform the conduct of this University’s management this is perhaps not surprising.  And of course it is not just the employees who feel threatened by the senior staff who seek to fashion the University in their own image.

UoB seemed highly concerned that students would support BUCU in this dispute. Yet, at some point the University’s senior leadership will need to accept that its own actions have mobilised and politicised a generation of students outraged by the injustices created by its own philistine approach to higher education policy. As fees have not yet been levied, we predict that this anger will grow rather than dwindle. The University must find a means other than outright repression to deal with this.

Any attempts to punish, discipline or intimidate UCU members taking official industrial action will not be tolerated by our branch. Such attempts, should they be occur will be met with an extremely robust response from UCU.


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