Threatened for months, the first ballot in favour of industrial action in reaction to university job cuts was cast on 3rd February. The announcement of 54 redundancies plans for up to 700 more finally pushed members of the University and Colleges Union (UCU) to vote on industrial action. With an “overwhelming” 66% turnout that seemed to surprise the UCU, the vote at Leeds could be a worrying portent.
Of those who voted, 64% supported strike action while 78% agreed in favour of action short of a strike; what this action could be remains unclear. Indignation and anger followed news that Leeds University was seeking to make £35million worth of savings and that 54 staff would lose their jobs. Following the vote, Leeds UCU president, Professor Malcolm Povey, said: “UCU members have today delivered a clear mandate for industrial action at the University of Leeds” but later reiterated him aim as “to resolve not escalate the dispute” but warned that “it takes two to tango.”
With budget cuts causing outrage amongst lecturers and concern amongst both new and perspective students, there is the potential for other, less financially secure institutions may soon be facing similar situations when forced to make budget cuts.