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April, 2011:

Liverpool Hope exam timetable at risk as university rejects union’s restructure proposals

15 April 2011

Further industrial action looks on the cards at Liverpool Hope University after the university rejected proposals from UCU for a more measured approach to significant funding changes.

UCU said today that it was disappointed that the university had rejected the union’s proposals to stagger staffing changes in its teacher education provision and that industrial action that could disrupt students’ exams was being seriously considered by its members at Liverpool Hope University.
The union says that the institution is reacting too quickly to changes to how teacher training will be funded in the future. The changes to move a lot of teacher training from universities to schools will not take place until 2012/13 and the union had set out plans to stagger voluntary redundancy packages and staff leaving.
UCU says that although the university will lose some funding from the Training and Development Agency (TDA) this year, it should not rush ahead with widespread job cuts that could damage the reputation of the institution and quality of the teaching it offers. The university will only find out in June what level of tuition fee it can charge students for the 2012/13 academic year.
UCU regional official, Martyn Moss, said: ‘The union is not blind to the difficulties faced by Liverpool Hope. Liverpool Hope is not the only university facing these challenges, but it is the only one moving at this pace to try and sack staff. We put forward sensible counter proposals that would allow the university to properly manage changes that are not due until the 2012/13 academic year.
‘We want to see a sensible resolution to this dispute, but we simply do not accept that the university has to move at this pace, or that it is in the interests of staff, students or the university’s reputation. That is why UCU members at Liverpool Hope are prepared to take further industrial action if the university refuses to reconsider.’

Strike date announced at Liverpool Hope University

From UCU website on 1 April 2011

Members of UCU at Liverpool Hope will take strike action next Friday (8 April) in their ongoing row over job losses and the institution’s response to cuts in funding.

The union said it was disappointed and frustrated that the university had ignored the advice of the arbitration service, ACAS, and refused the union’s request to extend the timetable during which staff could go on strike, which would have allowed more time to try and reach a resolution without strike action.

The union said it did not understand the university’s ‘put up or shut up’ threat to its staff at a time when tensions are running high. The news of strike action comes just a week after it was revealed that the vice-chancellor, Professor Gerald Pillay, received a pay increase of 21% to take his salary up £199,077 last year. More on that story can be found here.

UCU said that it is committed to continue talks in an effort to avoid compulsory redundancies and avoid strike action, but reiterated today that any strike action will be the fault of the university for refusing the union’s olive branch.

Trade union legislation requires unions to take action within 28 days of a strike ballot result, but employers have the power to extend this window to allow talks to continue; something Liverpool Hope refused to agree to.

Over 90 jobs are at risk at Liverpool Hope and UCU says the university is acting prematurely in making hasty and deep cuts that go beyond the government’s funding reductions for universities.

UCU regional official, Martyn Moss, said: ‘We fail to understand why the university has essentially asked union members to put up or shut up when it comes to strike action. Anyone looking for a peaceful resolution to this dispute would have extended the window and sought to avoid industrial action.

‘Had the university agreed to UCU’s request to extend the window for potential industrial action we could have focused on trying to resolve the dispute. By refusing the union’s olive branch they have left members at Liverpool Hope who value their jobs and the university’s long-term reputation with little choice but to take strike action. We appeal to the university to see sense and reconsider their position.

‘UCU members at Liverpool Hope have made it crystal clear that they have no faith in how the university is handling the funding problems that have beset the higher education sector. They do not think the university should be swinging the axe on jobs so hastily and will be out on strike to make that point and defend their jobs next week’.