Union accuses Uni of Liverpool bosses of being ‘drunk on power’

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Bosses at the University of Liverpool proposing to cut 32 jobs of leading academics are "drunk on power" on a "managerial vanity project", union leaders said today.

Nearly 1,300 staff are now in their third week of a strike in protest against "senseless" planned redundancies of high-valued teaching and research posts.

There is no sign of the deadlock being broken between the university and the University and College Union (UCU) who have been out on the picket line for the past fortnight.

And as part of a scathing attack on the University of Liverpool, union bosses said further industrial action beyond the three week strike was possible, including a total boycott of marking and assessments for students.

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University of Liverpool UCU branch president Anthony O’Hanlon told the ECHO: "There is no financial necessity for these cuts.

"It is a managerial vanity project from managers drunk on power at this university.

The Picket Line at University Square.(Pic Andrew Teebay).

"It's completely insensitive to the people of Liverpool.

"We have massive student support for this industrial action who don't like seeing their lecturers sacked.

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"The ball is completely in the university's court.

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"We have a range of options at our disposal and that could mean the strike further continuing the three weeks, working strictly to contract, and a complete boycott of all markings and assessment."

No progress has been made between the two sides over the last week, and when officials met for a discussion no glimpse of a resolution could be seen.

The industrial action comes after 84 per cent of members who voted in a ballot backed strike action to fight the university’s plans to slash teaching and research jobs in the faculty of health and life sciences.

The Picket Line at University Square.(Pic Andrew Teebay).

The university originally intended to sack up to 47 staff, but this has now been revised down to 32 after UCU first threatened industrial action.

The union has said the university is "relying on the use of flawed data to assess performance" which was "widely criticised by experts."

A number of rallies are being held around the university campus during the three weeks strikes, and although the picket lines have been affected by home learning and teaching due to the pandemic, numbers are still expected to reach into their several hundreds on some days.

Mr O’Hanlon said: "The onus is on the university to end this disruption for students and withdraw all the redundancies.

"These cuts are not legitimate.

"The morale amongst the union and those striking is strong, there is a mood of anger about how colleagues are being treated.

The Picket Line at University Square.(Pic Andrew Teebay).
The Picket Line at University Square.(Pic Andrew Teebay).

"This is a brutal decision endangering people's lives during a pandemic, based on flawed criteria.

"We won't stand for it."

The ECHO asked the University of Liverpool to detail the reasons for the job cuts, and for comment.

A spokesman said: “Collective consultation in respect of these redundancy proposals began in January and since then, several modifications have been made resulting in the reduction of the number of individuals at risk and further enhancements to the voluntary severance scheme on offer.

"Despite extensive efforts and commitment to the process, we believe we have now exhausted the possibility of meaningful discussion on the matters we could potentially agree upon which is our statutory duty in collective consultation.

"We respect colleagues’ right to participate in industrial action but prolonging the decision to close collective consultation while this takes place, would not be the most responsible course of action for staff affected by these plans.

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"Everyone considered potentially at risk will be invited to participate in individual consultation meetings.”

“The Faculty’s financial performance requires urgent attention due to the further pressures arising from the pandemic.

"The restructure in Health and Life Sciences will allow us to reinvest in areas of specialism, such as infectious diseases, that have been critical in the fight against COVID-19.”

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