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Heriot-Watt University staff vote in favour of strike action

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image copyrightJim Barton
image captionUnion members at Heriot-Watt University voted in favour of strike action

Staff at Heriot-Watt University have voted in favour of strike action over proposed cuts their union claims put 130 jobs at risk.

University and College Union (UCU) members at sites in Edinburgh, Orkney and Galashiels were balloted.

A total of 77% of those who took part came out in favour of striking.

The university has said it needs to make "difficult decisions" due the coronavirus pandemic but hopes to cut costs by voluntary means if possible.

image copyrightJim Barton
image captionThe university has sites in Edinburgh, Galashiels and Orkney

The UCU said there had been a 66% turnout among its members in the vote.

It has criticised the "rushed timetable" of cuts which it said meant alternative options to make savings had not been sufficiently explored.

It said losing so many staff in such a short timescale was bound to impact on both the student experience and the university's reputation.

However, it said it remained open to negotiation, and wanted to work with the employer to avoid the need for compulsory redundancies.

'Clear mandate'

UCU Scotland official Mary Senior said: "By voting in these numbers UCU members at Heriot-Watt University have made it crystal clear today that they have no confidence in the university's plans to cut jobs.

"The ballot result is a clear mandate for industrial action and to oppose job cuts."

She said good progress had been made in finding volunteers and compulsory redundancies should be taken "off the table".

The university has said the financial challenge of the coronavirus pandemic has forced it to look at proposals to reduce posts.

It said it was "disappointed with the outcome" of the strike ballot but would continue to work with staff, unions and its governing body "to find the best possible way through the current financial challenges".

A spokesman for the university added: "We are continuing to work through staff applications for voluntary redundancy, and remain committed to achieving savings through this route wherever possible."

Related Topics

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

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  • Heriot-Watt University staff balloted over strike action