Staff at London Metropolitan University in Tower Hamlets have begun two days of strike action against cuts and redundancies.
The ongoing campaign by staff and students at LMU began last year when university management announced 550 redundancies and closures. The cuts are being made to pay for a £38 million “claw back” of funds by the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE). The “claw back” was announced by the funding council last December when it discovered misreporting by LMU of student drop outs had led to a £58 million overpayment.
Staff and students say that they should not be made to pay for the mistakes and mismanagement of the university authorities. David Hardman, branch chair of UCU City Branch said that management were still receiving their large salaries and bonuses ‘despite their failures’.
Unions said the strike was ‘solid’ across all campuses with strong support from staff and students.
Students at the university’s North London campus walked out of class en masse in support of their striking lecturers and joined the picket line outside.
This latest action was called following the announcement of a fresh round of redundancies. Unions say that 50 staff will be made compulsorily redundant with another 200 to come.
Unions are demanding a freeze on all redundancies until an investigation into the university’s financial problems reports in November. They say that they have given university management every opportunity to avoid another strike but that they refuse to negotiate over union demands.
Max Watson, Unison branch chair said that the management were ‘paying lip service to consultation’.
Mr Watson said that the action had the overwhelming support of staff, students and the local community. He said:
“We understand that the strike will disrupt teaching but this isn’t something we do lightly. We believe that if these job cuts go through the disruption to students will be much much worse.”
Nobody from London Met was available for comment but a statement on their website said:
“London Metropolitan University is disappointed by the decision of members of its recognised trades unions to take industrial action on 15 and 16 October. We understand that this has been a difficult period for staff at London Met but believe that the vast majority now want a return to normal working, to rebuilding our confidence and to working together to deliver a high quality service to our students.”