No to redundancies at Brighton University!

Some 500 people demonstrated on Saturday against the assault on jobs at Brighton University. Despite having received more than 80 ‘volunteers’ for redundancy, the University is still insisting that 26 more must be forced out of their jobs. More than half these proposed sackings are to come from humanities and social science, areas with high UCU membership and subjects that don’t fit well with the Vice Chancellor’s vision of reducing the university to a skills-based training institution.

The Vice Chancellor claims that the University is in financial crisis and that its dire situation has been caused by factors – inflation and frozen student fees – over which they have no control. Neither of these things is true. Cutting through senior management’s lies and misinformation reveals a deficit much small than the one they are claiming. And it has been caused by the mismanagement of the University’s assets, leading them to seek to generate a surplus from teaching to cover their campus development plans.

For this, staff are expected to pay with their jobs. In other words, it’s the old story of Vice Chancellors on eye-watering salaries – £255,000 in Debra Humphris’s case – putting buildings before staff.

Saturday’s demonstration came the day after Brighton UCU’s ballot result against compulsory redundancies was announced: a 90% vote for action on a 61% turnout.

The rally was addressed by Maria Chondrogianni, the new Vice President of UCU. Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP and trade unionists from Unite, NEU and Unison spoke in solidarity with Brighton staff. The level of support among students is particularly strong, with a number of them coming up to speak.

In a recent vote of confidence organised by both trade unions at Brighton participated in by 1,500 members of the University, a staggering 94% declared they have no confidence in the Vice Chancellor and her senior team. Staff are intensifying their demand that Debra Humphris resigns, or, failing that, is removed by the Board of Governors.

Brighton UCU will decide how to use their industrial action mandate this week.

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