Middlesex University is seeking £10m of savings from its 2011/12 budget. It has identified that £5m of these savings should come from the staff budget: it considers it needs to get rid of approximately 300 staff at the university. Currently, 161 academic staff have been placed in initial redundancy pools across the University, with around 100 academic staff likely to leave the University through a mixture of compulsory and voluntary redundancy if the plans go ahead.

UCU warned the university management that if they persisted with their readiness to make staff compulsorily redundant, and sought at the same time to impose changes to our nationally agreed Conditions of Service for those who remain, then the university risked facing industrial action.

As the final stage of the internal dispute procedures, union representatives met the Acting Vice-Chancellor, Terry Butland, on Tuesday 16th August. Even at this late stage Middlesex University has declined UCU’s insistence that it withdraw the threat of compulsory redundancies and confirm its adherence to the national conditions of service for academic staff workload arrangements.

Consequently, we (and our colleagues in Unison) are now balloting our members for strike action. UCU nationally has declared its full support to our Branch in resisting these cuts.

The ballot opens on Tuesday 30th August and closes on Wednesday 21 September. The last day to post your ballot to arrive to the ERS in time is Monday 19 September.

These cuts will have a devastating effect on provision and will do lasting damage to the institution’s academic reputation, the quality of the student experience, and the morale of the university’s academic staff more generally.

Throughout our negotiations with the university’s senior management, UCU questioned the need for cuts and pointed to figures from the Office for Fair Access, which show that Middlesex will charge one of the highest tuition fee levels (£8,602 after financial support is taken into account) in the country.

Note, of course, that no member of the university’s senior executive will be suffering financially. The Vice-Chancellor himself will continue to enjoy his fine salary of some £280,000 (2009/10: £259,000 including pension contributions), a salary which puts him 9th from the top of university VC salaries in the UK. (The average salary of full-time staff at Middlesex in 2009/10 was £45,692).

UCU and Unison are working together; the Middlesex Union of Students is involved. UCU members are asked to show their support and join together in saying “No to compulsory redundancies”, “No to the threats to the academic national conditions of service” and “Yes to saving Middlesex University”!

Ballot papers have been sent out – the next three weeks is vital in the campaign.

Middlesex University UCU