Solidarity motions and statements for Sunderland and SOAS UCU

Employers’ offensives are taking place at Sunderland – with the cutting of programmes in History, Politics and Modern Languages and the potential redundancy of 30 members of staff – and at SOAS – where management have unilaterally suspended research leave and slashed fractional budgets, piling up additional workload for permanent staff.

There has been a fantastic response from branches up and down the country. These are disputes of national significance and we encourage every branch to pass motions and invite speakers from both SOAS and Sunderland. This is what the market is doing to our sector – we need a vociferous and immediate response!

Message of support to SOAS UCU from Essex UCU


We are appalled by the decision of the SOAS management to suspend research leave and implement major cuts to fractional budgets.  This once again demonstrates that rising workloads and job insecurity are two sides of the same coin, and should be fought against simultaneously, as we are doing in our ‘Four Fights-One Voice’ campaign. 

SOAS staff are not alone – either in the attack they face, or in their fight against it in the increasingly profit-driven, cut-throat work environment of HE.

We support SOAS staff’s struggle for their rights and jobs, and send our solidarity. 

University of Essex UCU Branch

Message of support to Sunderland UCU from Essex UCU

Dear Sunderland UCU,

Members of Essex University UCU note with concern the decision by Sunderland University’s Board of Governors to close the history and modern languages departments. The Board’s newly announced ‘career-focused and professions-facing’ vision jeopardizes both the livelihoods of 34 academic staff and the idea of the University as a public good. Essex UCU urges the Board of Governors to reconsider their decision, thereby preventing any compulsory redundancies and the short-sighted narrowing of the University’s raison d’être.

University of Essex UCU Branch

Message of support to Sunderland and SOAS UCU from Newcastle UCU branch committee

Newcastle University UCU branch committee notes:

1. The suspension of research leave and slashing of fractional budgets at SOAS in London.

2. The closing down of modern languages, history, politics and public health courses at the University of Sunderland

We affirm that no member of staff – especially the most vulnerable ones on precarious contracts – should be held responsible for deficits caused by the introduction of a cut-throat market logic into higher education. No university should be left to “fail” and no institution should be left to fight alone. We send our solidarity to all staff and students at SOAS and Sunderland University and demand that the cuts be immediately reversed. If the government was willing to bail out bankers who presided over a massive economic crisis, then the government should bail out universities who are providing a vital public service.

Message of support to SOAS UCU from Glasgow UCU branch committee

The University of Glasgow UCU Branch Committee is shocked and horrified at news that SOAS management has unilaterally decided to cut the fractional staff budget and suspended institutionally-funded research leave starting in 2020-2021.

We are concerned about the effects on the livelihoods and well-being of all staff, especially female and BAME workers who are disproportionately affected by casualisation. No member of staff should be made to pay for the bad decisions of management.

What we are seeing at SOAS is the result of the market-driven transformation of higher education across the UK. Pay and conditions are deteriorating even as the sector as a whole has a £1 billion surplus. Inevitably, students and other beneficiaries of higher education will suffer too.

Education should be a public good and staff should be treated with the respect that they deserve. We stand in solidarity with SOAS UCU and staff and wish them well in their struggle against this injustice.

Message of support to SOAS UCU from UCL UCU

The HE market has caused many employers to invest over-ambitiously. Others, particularly post 92 universities, are already haemorrhaging courses and staff.

What happens at SOAS will be used by other employers as they try to decide what they can get away with.

If they can threaten job cuts or pay cuts – and we know 3 employers, Cumbria, Hull and Northampton, have so far implemented the 1.8% imposed – then they can scare members into not fighting over pay and conditions nationally, and leave the union fighting a series of local battles, all circumscribed by emplpoyer ‘affordability’.

What is happening in SOAS is not separate fromthe Four Fights dispute – it is a clear example of employers counter-attacking on casualisation and workload by threatening our members if they dare to fight for more than a few crumbs.

This is a dangerous time for the UCU. We need to find every opportunity to build solidarity and to make your dispute a “local dispute of national importance” in deeds not just words.

Messages of support to Sunderland

via Twitter: @SunderlandUCU; via Email to the Branch Secretary:

You can read more on events at Sunderland here and here

Messages of support to SOAS

via Twitter: @ucusoas; via Email to the President: Tom Armstrong:

You can read more on what’s happening at SOAS here and here

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