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Middlesex University UNISON Branch Ballots for Industrial Action.
Middlesex University UNISON Branch has given notice to Middlesex University of their intention to ballot for strike action over the threat of 200 compulsory redundancies at the University. The use of compulsory redundancies will potentially bring the total number of job losses at the University to 300, and represents a loss of 15% of the University workforce.
The fight over job losses at Middlesex University represents a fight against the impact of national government spending cuts in the Higher Education sector, as well as the way they are being implemented at the University.
Since the announcement of compulsory redundancies at Middlesex on the 9th June, UNISON has sought to negotiate with the University to avoid recourse to compulsory redundancies. We have questioned the University over their use of outside consultants and outsourcing companies (£2.5 million) failed business ventures in India (Noida) and the University estates strategy.
Middlesex University in its financial statements has claimed that staff costs to income remains “one of the lowest in the sector” yet it still believes it can cut further posts and retain the same level of service and education to its students. UNISON believes that these severe and drastic cuts represent a serious risk to the University, cutting too fast and too deep, damaging key areas of the University business.
The University prides itself on recent gains made in delivering the “Student Experience”: National Student Survey 2010, Guardian League Table 2011 and Complete University Guide 2012. Middlesex University UNISON Branch Secretary : Paul Howell states: “These gains have been delivered by University staff, now threatened with being made compulsory redundant. The increased workloads and stress created for the staff left behind will do little to improve this reputation, the University has used up what little good will it has.”
UNISON members at Middlesex have shown time and again at Branch Annual and Extraordinary General Meetings that they will not take these attacks on their jobs lying down. UNISON members have indicated overwhelmingly in a consultative ballot that they are prepared to back up this intention with industrial action.
This is action UNISON believes the Students Union and Students at large will support, and UNISON will continue to work with the Students Union in this campaign. Branch Secretary: Paul Howell states “Students recognise that these cuts are an attack on their education, the University still hasn’t adequately answered how they intend to mitigate the impact of these job losses on the student experience”
Middlesex UNISON does not take such action lightly, we have in conjunction with the academic and lecturers union (UCU) sought to resolve our dispute to avoid the need for Compulsory Redundancies and without recourse to industrial action. Even at this late stage UNISON would welcome a meeting with representatives from the University management to discuss a meaningful redundancy avoidance policy and an improved voluntary redundancy package to allow staff wishing to leave the University the opportunity to do so.
The UNISON ballot will open on the 2nd September and closes on the 23rd September. Subsequent action will be co-ordinated with UCU. Middlesex University UNISON Branch Committee.