Winchester staff vote to strike over cuts and workload

Forty jobs set to go at university

May 21, 2024
Cardiff, Wales - November 2019 Sign attached to a tree near an official picket line outside Cardiff University. It marks industrial action by members of the Universities and College Union.
Source: iStock

Staff at the University of Winchester are to go on strike next month over job cuts and “excessive workloads”.

The University and College Union (UCU), which previously warned that 40 jobs could be lost at the institution, announced that Winchester staff will strike on 4 June, after 79 per cent of members voted to back strike action.

Workers at Winchester are the latest to announce strikes amid widespread financial angst throughout the sector.

A report from the Office for Students warned that stalling domestic recruitment and a sharp decline in international student enrolment could plunge more than 80 per cent of English institutions into deficit in less than three years.

The dispute at Winchester is also said to centre around unfavourable changes to workloads, which the union fears will lead to unhealthy and unmanageable working hours.

With a turnout of 59 per cent in the ballot, 93 per cent of members also voted for action short of strike, which will begin on 5 June and includes working to contract and refusing to cover for absent colleagues.

“Members are in constant fear of losing their job,” said a Winchester UCU spokesperson. “We’ve had half a decade of attacks and job cuts which needs to end.”

According to UCU, the changes are threatening the future of the university’s Institute for Climate and Social Justice and its Centre of Religion, Reconciliation and Peace.

It is just three years since the university – which described itself as “the university for sustainability and social justice” – installed a £24,000 statute of climate activist Greta Thunberg, which some criticised as a “vanity project”.

Robert Beckford, the climate institute’s director and Winchester’s only black professor, is said to be one of those whose jobs are being made redundant.

UCU said it fears that the cuts – which are thought to be the result of a £6 million structural deficit – will lead to more down the line.

Jo Grady, UCU general secretary, said university management have two weeks to begin meaningful negotiations to improve on the “threatened punitive workload allocation model, to avoid compulsory job losses and help preserve the reputation of the institution”.

“We want to get round the negotiating table and avoid disruption,” she added. “The ball is in the employer’s court.”

Winchester said it was having to take action to ensure that it can continue to deliver "transformational education in Winchester and Hampshire".

A spokesperson added: "The proposals upon which we have consulted reflect the challenging financial circumstances facing the university sector as a whole and are not a reflection of the dedication and performance of those affected."

Register to continue

Why register?

  • Registration is free and only takes a moment
  • Once registered, you can read 3 articles a month
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Please Login or Register to read this article.

Related articles