13 May 2017

Historic ballot for industrial action at Manchester Met

A message from Manchester Met UCU

We believe we are the first UCU Branch to go to ballot under the new (anti) Trade Union Bill, and we are delighted to report that we have been successful in our ballot for industrial action.

YES we had over 50% turnout and YES members have shown their determination to stand up for jobs and education – 78.9% in favour of strike action. The MMU management has made a serious mistake in thinking that our members here would ignore the savage attacks on members at our Crewe Campus because it was 40 miles away from central Manchester sites. While management prepared for compulsory redundancies on an unprecedented scale in HE (up to 370 and counting) and rode rough-shod over agreements and procedures, we have organised a high-profile and energetic campaign. With support from the National Office and Sally Hunt too on rallies and Get The Vote Out campaign, we have managed to build the confidence members needed to express their outrage through a resounding ballot for industrial action.

We have had expressions of support from many branches, from student organisations and from the Crewe Labour Party. We are determined to stand up for jobs and education against these savage attacks on education.

Please send further messages to:

j.wilkinson@mmu.ac.uk  – Julie Wilkinson, Branch Secretary
c.j.ashworth@mmu.ac.uk  – Catherine Ashworth, Branch Chair

Manchester Metropolitan University staff back strike action in jobs row

UCU members at Manchester Metropolitan University will be on strike later this month after they overwhelmingly backed industrial action.

Four-fifths of UCU members who voted (79%) backed strike action in a ballot which ran from Thursday 6 April to Monday 8 May. The first strike days will be Wednesday 24 and Thursday 25 May. The action will hit both the Crewe and Manchester campuses.

The row centres on plans to close the university’s Crewe campus and the fate of the 160 academic staff based there. The ballot was held after the university refused a proposal from UCU to postpone the 16 redundancies already scheduled for this summer to allow both sides time to consider redeployment options.

UCU said it has been frustrated by a lack of good faith from the university in meetings. The union said that the university’s representatives had appeared to be willing to work towards compromises in meetings but then managers would renege on promises just hours later.

The university has almost £400m in reserves and UCU says it sees no rationale for refusing to pause on this summer’s job losses or rule out compulsory redundancies. The university confirmed on 10 February that the Crewe campus will close in August 2019 after the students currently enrolled on courses there have finished their studies.

UCU regional official Martyn Moss said: ‘UCU members at Manchester Metropolitan University have made it quite clear that they are prepared to take strike action to defend jobs at their university. The ball is now firmly in the university’s court and we hope they will respond positively.

‘Strike action is always a last resort, but members will walk out later this month if the university refuses to address the jobs issue.

‘Manchester Metropolitan University is wrong to try discard years of academic experience as it closes the Crewe campus and we want to properly explore all available options. The university needs to stop rushed plans for 16 job losses this summer and work with us to reach a fair resolution.’

The dispute took a bizarre twist last month when the university slapped a last-minute ban on UCU holding a union meeting on campus. The union described that move as “an unprecedented attack on academic freedom”.

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