13 January 2010
The fight to save jobs at the University of Leeds will intensify this week as members of UCU are balloted for industrial action in defence against job cuts.
UCU members will today hold a special meeting at the university that will mark the launch of the ballot.
The union is campaigning against compulsory redundancies and will today call on the vice-chancellor, Professor Michael Arthur, to rebuild trust with staff by putting his plans for mass job losses on hold and by working together with the union to oppose funding cuts in higher education.
Universities are facing cuts of more than £900 million over the next three years and in an interview with yesterday’s Guardian newspaper Michael Arthur acknowledged that making savings would have a ‘devastating effect’ on staff and students.
Over 50 staff have already lost their jobs at the university with up to another 700 at risk. UCU said the cuts have already inflicted serious damage on the university and warned that further redundancies would lead to higher student:staff ratios and further increase staff workloads.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Leeds UCU president, Malcolm Povey, said: ‘The vice chancellor has himself acknowledged the “devastating effect” cuts will have on staff and students. The university simply cannot afford to go down this road if it wants to maintain its reputation as one of the UK’s leading institutions. Management can rebuild trust with staff if it joins with UCU in opposing the government’s savage cuts to higher education and puts these plans on hold.’
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘Staff have no desire to take action which could impact upon students and their education but the vice-chancellor must recognise his duty to defend the academic work of staff at the university. We will certainly defend every job and oppose the threat of compulsory redundancies. Staff are the most important resource at any university and getting rid of huge numbers is not in the interests of the university, its students or the local community.’