Up to 1,300 members of staff could stage strike at University of Liverpool on first week of term

A staff strike could cause severe disruption at the University of Liverpool in the first full week of term in October.

Union members protest at the University of Liverpool. Image: ucu.org.ukUnion members protest at the University of Liverpool. Image: ucu.org.uk
Union members protest at the University of Liverpool. Image: ucu.org.uk

University of Liverpool staff are planning a strike next week unless management axes plans for compulsory redundancy.

The strike could cause “wholesale disruption” for students in the first full week of teaching at the university in the new term, according to the University and College Union (UCU).

A UCU spokesperson said the union has 1,300 members at the university and is calling on all of them to go out on strike.

What’s the proposed strike action about?

The proposed action is the latest in a long running dispute over job cuts in the university’s faculty of health and life sciences.

There has been a long-standing disagreement between UCU and university management over what the union describes as “flawed data” being used to select staff for redundancy.

In a ballot earlier this year, 84% of UCU members who voted backed strike action to fight the university’s plans to cut 47 teaching and research jobs in the faculty of health and life sciences.

This number has now fallen to two compulsory redundancies after six months of industrial action, including 24 days of strikes by staff, according to UCU.

What do the UCU want?

The union is calling on the university to “get round the negotiating table” to avoid disruption to the first week of term.

UCU has already asked the international academic community to boycott the university through a series of measures including asking them to refuse invitations to give lectures at the university and not applying for jobs.

The university’s student body, the Guild of Students, has previously said it is ‘strongly opposed’ to any redundancies.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “University of Liverpool vice-chancellor Janet Beer has forced staff to take 24 days of strike action in defence of jobs in a dispute that has now entered its sixth month.

“Thanks to our industrial action, the university has stepped back from sacking almost all of the 47 staff originally at risk. Janet now needs to halt plans to sack the final two members who are still being threatened with compulsory redundancy and finally resolve this dispute. Otherwise, the university will be hit with wholesale disruption in its first full week of teaching.”

University of Liverpool UCU president Peta Bulmer said: “Staff and students at the University of Liverpool have consistently demanded these staff are not sacked and there is no financial need to sack them. The employer can avert the chaos of strike action by listening to staff and students and halting these cuts.

“Management at the university has caused students and staff a great deal of stress by refusing to end this dispute. There are only two staff left to save and we are calling on the vice-chancellor to reach an agreement so students do not see disruption to their first full week of lessons this academic year.”

University reaction

A University of Liverpool spokesperson, said: “The majority of those colleagues who remained at risk of redundancy have now accepted an enhanced voluntary severance offer and have left or will shortly leave the university.

“This, aligned with other measures such as redeployment, mean that notice of compulsory redundancy has been made to only one person. It is extremely disappointing that a further period of strike action has been announced by UCU.”

The spokesperson added that the university has “well-established and robust mitigation measures” to minimise disruption and a range of support services “for students who feel they may benefit from extra support during this time”.