Angered by unnecessary redundancies and management’s unwillingness to engage in meaningful negotiations, academic staff at the University of Birmingham recently voted overwhelmingly to hold a ballot for strike action that would seriously disrupt teaching for all students from September 2016 onwards.
The vote follows an ongoing series of job losses that have been proposed by the University, with job cuts in the areas of Engineering, Neuroscience/Pharmacology, Hydrogeology, and Modern Languages.
Over the last 12 months, more than 100 members of staff have been put at risk of redundancy. More than 100 members of staff have been exposed to the threat of losing their jobs.
This is despite the University paying over £400K in salary to its VC, and reporting a £45m surplus in its most recent annual accounts.
The academic staff union, UCU, has repeatedly encouraged the University to find alternatives to what are widely believed to be unnecessary job losses. However, the intransigence of the University management position is such that academic staff members have been forced to consider the option of ongoing strike action.
If the ballot produces a yes vote, which all indicative polling suggests is very likely, then this could lead to significant disruption to the teaching and learning of students at the University of Birmingham.
A UCU spokesperson said, “These job losses are entirely unnecessary and threaten the quality of teaching at the University of Birmingham. The strike action that has been suggested could be entirely avoided if only the University management would enter into reasonable discussions with its own staff. However, sadly this has not been the case so far and we have therefore been left with the proposal for strike action as our only option”.
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