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Three weeks of strikes at University of Liverpool start today

24 May 2021

Around 1,300 staff at the University of Liverpool began three weeks of strike action today in a fight over cuts to jobs in the faculty of health and life sciences, said UCU.

Last Friday UCU told the university the criteria for sacking staff are fundamentally flawed, there is evidence of age discrimination in how they have been applied, and the university is in serious breach of the Data Protection Act 2018 by using staff data for purposes staff haven't consented to.

Staff are on strike every working day over the next three weeks unless the university halts the cuts. The full strike dates are:

  • Monday 24 May - Friday 28 May
  • Tuesday 1 June - Friday 4 June
  • Monday 7 June - Friday 11 June

The strikes are going ahead during the crucial end of year examination period, meaning disruption for the university will be especially severe.

The strikes come after 84% of members who voted in a ballot last month, backed strike action to fight the university's plans to slash teaching and research jobs in the faculty of health and life sciences. The university originally intended to sack up to 47 staff. This has since been revised down to 32 after UCU threatened industrial action. 

University managers have issued new criteria to 'rank and yank' the staff they deem worst performing. The original criteria were widely criticised by experts. Last week academics from the UCU branch at the University of Liverpool published a devastating research paper that labelled the new criteria as "statistically innumerate". The paper shows the redundancy selection criteria are wholly inappropriate for measuring performance; contravene written assurances that Higher Education Statistics Agency data will not be used to assess staff; and are based on woefully incomplete information.

Staff have organised digital picket line registrations and socially distanced physical pickets each day. Covid safe events are also planned throughout the first week of the strike. These include a 12pm online rally with UCU general secretary Jo Grady today and a socially distanced on-campus rally at University Square on Friday. From Tuesday to Friday there will also be online teach-outs at 11am each morning. Topics include resisting casualisation in higher education.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'University managers have today forced around 1,300 staff to go on strike because of their senseless attack on health jobs. If these cuts go through, they would damage student learning, damage research, and have long lasting negative consequences for staff throughout the sector. The strikes will continue for three weeks and are taking place during the crucial end of year examination period. The only way for management to end this severe disruption is to withdraw their rank and yank tactics and stop threatening 32 staff with compulsory redundancy.

'The redundancy selection criteria are completely inappropriate for measuring performance. They were never intended to be used to sack staff and mean the university is in serious breach of the Data Protection Act 2018. We also believe they are not compliant with labour law and have seen clear evidence of age discrimination. To prevent a whole host of legal challenges, three full weeks of strikes, and a continuing campaign of sustained industrial action all the university has to do is end its fatally flawed redundancy process. UCU has again requested further talks to discuss a resolution to the dispute.'

 

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