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Heriot-Watt University staff balloted over strike action

image copyrightJim Barton
image captionStaff in Edinburgh and Galashiels will be balloted on strike action

Staff at Heriot-Watt University are being balloted for strike action over cuts a union claims put more than 130 jobs at risk.

University and College Union (UCU) members at sites in Edinburgh, Orkney and Galashiels will vote on the move.

It said a "rushed timetable" meant alternative options to make savings had not been sufficiently explored.

A university spokesperson said it hoped to reduce its costs by voluntary means "wherever possible".

The union ballot opens on Tuesday and runs until 20 October.

'Unjustified cuts'

UCU's Scotland official, Mary Senior, said: "This decision to cut 130 jobs at Heriot-Watt University will add to the worry and upset among staff and students.

"The news comes at a time when staff have worked tirelessly to keep the university running during the Covid-19 crisis and when the chances of finding other work will be hard.

"That these cuts come so soon after jobs losses in 2017 raises questions about the university's management and whether managers are using the Covid crisis as a smokescreen for unjustified job cuts."

She said the union was open to negotiation to avoid compulsory job losses.

In a statement, the university said the coronavirus pandemic had had a "significant impact" on its income.

'Financial challenge'

"This financial challenge is resulting in the need to make some difficult decisions, and this includes proposals to reduce the number of roles across the university," a spokesperson said.

"We are committed to finding these through voluntary means wherever possible, either through potential redundancy or other voluntary options such as a reduction in working hours, career breaks and flexible retirement.

"We continue to consider all suggestions for cost savings, and consultation with unions and staff around the proposals for role reductions, which includes a number of externally-funded research roles coming to their natural end, is ongoing."

The university said no final decisions had been made and the programme for voluntary options remained open.

Related Topics

  • Universities
  • Galashiels
  • Heriot-Watt University
  • Orkney
  • Strike action
  • Edinburgh