More than 1,000 UCU members at the University of Liverpool will begin industrial action from 10 May over proposed job cuts – a program of action that could last five months.
The disruption could include strikes and marking boycotts, UCU warned, if the university does not meet the union’s demands.
Earlier this month, 90% of members who voted in a ballot earlier this month backed industrial action short of a strike – and 84% voted supported strike action.
The university has plans to restructure the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, including a proposal to cut up to 47 jobs. The union is alarmed at what it describes as “the use of flawed data on research and grant income to assess performance”. It maintains the university relied on two metrics to assess the performance of staff – research income and citations – benchmarked against average figures of academics in other universities.
The university’s absurd methodology for deciding who it will sack has been derided throughout the academic community and has led to the biggest vote for industrial action in the branch’s history
– Martyn Moss, UCU regional official
Liverpool defended its decision to use a measure of research income over five years to identify colleagues potentially at risk of redundancy. In a statement, the university said it employed other metrics such as “the contribution of positive citation metrics” and “impact case study authorship, leadership contribution and membership of external bodies” to identify team members to retain. Liverpool University said it “strongly refutes any allegations of discrimination within this process” because it took mitigating circumstances into account — including the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, long-term illnesses, parental leave, part-time workers and those with caring responsibilities.
University of Liverpool UCU branch president Anthony O’Hanlon said: “Staff are furious that the university is proceeding with this senseless attack on jobs. We have a mandate to take sustained industrial action and this boycott of working outside contracted hours by more than 1,000 staff will be followed by further action unless the university stops threatening our colleagues’ livelihoods.”
UCU regional official Martyn Moss said: “The university’s absurd methodology for deciding who it will sack has been derided throughout the academic community and has led to the biggest vote for industrial action in the branch’s history. Staff are completely committed to fighting the cuts. If the university refuses to end its brutal attack on jobs, staff are also willing to boycott all marking and assessments and go on strike before the end of term.”
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