Eastbourne university staff go on strike

University of Brighton, Hillbrow, School of Sport and Service Management, Eastbourne campus, Gaudick Road. September 3rd 2013 E36145P
University of Brighton, Hillbrow, School of Sport and Service Management, Eastbourne campus, Gaudick Road. September 3rd 2013 E36145P

Lecturers from the University of Brighton have gone on strike today (Friday, March 31).

Staff from the University, which has an Eastbourne campus, are taking industrial action over redundancies and demotions.

They have also begun working to contract, which means the staff in the University and College Union (UCU) will stop unpaid evening or weekend work.

Staff say they are dissatisfied with the ‘damaging mishandling’ of the University’s closure of the Hastings campus and an ‘underlying threat’ to the future of the campus at Eastbourne.

The union said the dispute arose after the university ‘breached longstanding agreements’ negotiated with the UCU about the working conditions of all academic staff.

It said that the ‘multiple and persistent nature’ of these breaches threatens the status of the UCU as the union recognised to negotiate on behalf of academic staff at the University of Brighton.

Members backed industrial action in a ballot last month, with three-quarters (77 per cent) voting for strike action and 85 per cent backing action short of a strike.

Michael Moran, UCU regional official, said, “The university’s plan to downgrade teaching staff, make others redundant, and refuse promotion opportunities is an insult to hardworking staff and a serious threat to the quality of education on offer.

“By repeatedly ignoring agreed procedures for changing working conditions, the university has also shown a blatant disregard for its employees and the union which represents them.

“Strike action is always a last resort, but in the face of such sweeping changes staff feel they have little choice. We urge the university to sit down with UCU and explore alternatives to these damaging plans.”

A spokesperson from the University of Brighton said, “This industrial action is totally unnecessary and we are disappointed that it is going ahead. The University will remain open and we will do everything necessary to minimise the impact on our students.

“Despite UCU statements to the contrary the University has fully engaged in discussions and has actively sought opportunities for conciliation on all of the issues raised including offering to engage the services of a third party to assist with the assessment of Hourly Paid Lecturers and Demonstrators.

“The University has at all times carried out negotiations with the UCU in accordance with our commitments under agreements with them.

“These efforts at conciliation have been consistently rebuffed by the UCU who are clearly determined to pursue a course of action regardless of the facts. Despite the UCU’s negativity and apparent determination to spread misleading information we remain committed to dialogue.

“We will continue to work to secure the University’s long-term future through investment in a first-class student experience and continuing improvements to our estate and infrastructure.”