Queen Mary UCU votes for strike action

On a 55% turnout Queen Mary UCU members have voted for strike action and action short of a strike over redundancies and performance management issues. 65% voted for strike action and 81% for action short of a strike.

QM UCU members participated in the national UCU strikes on June 30th and November 30th of 2011, but this is the first time in recent years that they will take strike action over local issues. A Yes vote was recommended by the local branch committee and Sally Hunt, the general secretary of UCU, who wrote to members to “support your union” and “Vote yes to action.”

Management at Queen Mary has embarked on several rounds of job cuts under cover of crude ‘restructuring’ processes. Most recently, the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences has been under attack. Forced redundancies and poorly thought through changes to teaching practices have been opposed by students and staff alike. One of the most outspoken critics of this process, Dr. Fanis Missrilis, was made redundant in July, over the summer when students were away and unable to stand alongside their lecturers. Dr Missrilis was popular with students, and had previously criticised the tuition fee increases on the basis that they could not be justified by teaching costs.  His latest ‘offence’ was to write a letter to the medical journal The Lancet criticising QM’s redundancy program.

As fees climb to £9000 students should be receiving more for their money. Instead, new performance management methods strong-armed through by management without proper consultation discriminate against those lecturers with heavy teaching loads. At the same time, staff are being made redundant. This is not conducive to either effective teaching or research at a university. The actions of management are damaging the reputation of Queen Mary, disrupting the ability of staff members to do their jobs and ignoring the concerns and needs of students.

This vote for strike action should be welcomed by everyone at QM. Students and staff working side by side can put up the most effective challenge to management. The time to begin organising for the strongest possible picket lines is now.

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Make sure to catch Jérémie Bedard-Wien (Quebec//CLASSE) at the University of East London. More details here

A Queen Mary’s striker will be speaking at the EAN Conference at SOAS on October 28. Click here to register.

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About educationactivistnetwork
The education activist network provides national coordination for trade unionists, academics, university workers and student campaigners fighting to defend jobs and education in the UK.

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