This is not a normal summer: job cuts, ballots & resistance across the UK

Jobs and conditions are currently being threatened at universities across the UK. It’s vital that no branch is left alone to fight and that we are thinking of ways of offering solidarity to any branch that is in dispute or set to take action and that each branch action is seen as a dispute of national significance. Branches will be facing huge challenges to ensure health & safety procedures are in place for the start of term and to resist the attempts by management to increase workload and shed staff as a response to Covid-19 pressures. This will require not just a response at the top of the union but branches supporting each other when they’re fighting back. Here are just some of the ballots, redundancy programmes and other actions that we are aware of. And people tell us that university staff are supposed to have long summers…Please email to tell us what’s going on in your branch and make sure you tweet these branches with your solidarity messages.

Kent (@UoK_UCU)

A consultative ballot over compulsory redundancies now taking place.

Imperial (@ImperialUCU)

The branch is now in dispute over compulsory redundancies in the ICT Department and taking part in a consultative ballot.


Both Unison and UCU members are due to ballot over substantial job cuts. As of 5 August, SOAS UNISON has received a Section 188 notice putting 88 staff in Professional Services at risk of compulsory redundancy.

Goldsmiths (@GoldsmithsUCU)

The branch is formally in dispute over lack of equalities impact assessments in relation to the non-renewal of Associate Lecturer and FTC contract posts, cancellation of promotions and suspension of research leave.

Reading (@ReadingUCU)

There are potential large-scale redundancies at Reading where management has threatened to fire and then re-hire staff on inferior contracts. The UCU branch is currently in negotiations with management.

Liverpool (@ULivUCU2)

UCU has organised a “Defend all Jobs” campaign (in association with Unison and Unite) to oppose non-renewal of over 500 fixed-term jobs.

University of East London (@uelucu)

UEL has proposed severe staffing cuts across the entire university that will include academics, technical team staff and professional service staff. There are currently 367 members of staff with job uncertainty. Sign the petition HERE.

Exeter (@ExeterUCU)

The UCU branch has voted (61.7% to 38.3%) to accept management’s proposals on savings.

Sheffield (@SheffieldUCU)

Management have launched a Section 188 consultation on redundancies which involves the possibility of dismissal and re-hiring. There was a very large branch meeting on 30 July to discuss a response with other campus unions.

Coventry (@coventryucu)

The branch is currently engaged in a vote of no confidence over a whole range of issues. Staff have also been informed that the ‘normal’ working day now extends to 10pm Monday to Friday and until 2pm on Saturdays. 

Heriot Watt (@UCU_HWUBranch)

Management have announced plans to cut 70-90 jobs, some 5% of staff. See this story in the Edinburgh Evening News about Heriot Watt and other Scottish Universities.

Portsmouth (@PortsmouthUcu)

Despite widespread community opposition, the University is going ahead with job cuts in English Literature programmes. For more information, read this article

The UCU Solidarity Movement has called a day of action to coincide with the release of A Level results on 13 August and is asking UCU branches and regions to organise physically distanced protests at universities where members are under attack. In London, local branches will protest outside SOAS (WC1H 0XG) at 12.30pm.

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