Saturday, 28 May 2011

UNISON members ballot for industrial action against job cuts at London Met

London Met University staff in UNISON are balloting for industrial action this week, in a battle against job cuts. They have the full backing of both the students’ union and the academic union, UCU, who are also balloting their members.

The university has been rocked by controversial plans by the new Vice Chancellor Malcolm Gillies, to cut courses by 70 per cent. These new closures follow announcements to close other essential services such as the last remaining nursery, the Learning Development Unit, the Print Centre and dozens more cuts.

The latest redundancy notice served to the unions, a ‘Section 188’, brings the total so far this academic year to almost 200 proposed job cuts. The university is now slashing Library staff, Student Services, support workers and counsellors who help the most disadvantaged students at London Met who have learning disabilities, mental health issues and other vulnerabilities.

Max Watson, Chairperson of the London Met UNISON branch, which represents these support staff, and National Executive Council (NEC) member for Higher Education, said:

“We’ve made our position clear from day one: talk to the unions seriously, with transparent, open negotiations and genuinely explore ways to avoid compulsory redundancies. Instead, they’ve torn up any agreements we had, and trashed what precious little good will they had left.

“Our members have indicated time and again that we’re not going to accept these cuts lying down. The proposed statutory minimum terms add insult to injury. We’re saying: enough already! If management continue to ignore our reasonable demands in such brutish fashion, then we are left with no choice but to take strike action. I’ve no doubt our members will vote yes and I hope that management will think carefully about what that means when they do.”

Jon Richards, UNISON’s National Head of Higher Education, states:

“Cutting support staff is a short sighted mistake which will mean more work for academics and a poorer service for students. Students want more than just contact time with lecturers. And as fees rise students will expect improved resources: better library, information and guidance services; improved pastoral care in a secure environment; and quality catering and cleaning services. London Met needs to ask itself if it can satisfy this otherwise students in the future may simply decide to go elsewhere.”

Claire Locke, president elect of the Student’s Union, said:

“The Students’ Union noted in the Student Written Submission to the Quality Assurance Agency 2010 that the redundancy policy in 2009 impacted on the learning experience of students and went as far as to say that the University had let the student body down in relation to their educational experience. How the University intends to mitigate against this happening again baring in mind the severity of the pending cuts is unknown.”

“Students recognise how damaging the universities plans will be to our institution. The Student Council passed a motion in support of staff taking industrial action giving the Students’ Union a clear mandate to actively support staff.”

The ballot closes on Friday 10th June, and the results will be published shortly afterwards and any action will be coordinated with the UCU.


Note to Editors:
London Met has a higher percentage of manual Working Class students than any other university and almost as many black and minority ethnic students than the entire Russell Group put together (NUS).

The University has so far declined to carry out a thorough Equality Impact Assessment on the result of these cuts.

UNISON represents over 400 support staff at London Met Uni, and 50,000 in Higher Education across the UK.


For further info, call Max Watson, UNISON Chairperson at London Met:

0207 320 3010 / 07793 145 754

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