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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 June 2008

Victory against bosses at Keele

Staff at Keele University have won a modest victory at a time when working conditions are being attacked right across the higher education sector. It shows that even when management are fighting from a position of strength, they can be forced to retreat by determined, united action.

Six months from when Keele management announced its "non-negotiable" plans for closing courses and axing posts, news came through that the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) had forced the Vice-Chancellor Janet Finch and her management team to the negotiating table.

Job cuts

The dispute began shortly after the start of the Christmas holidays when management announced the closure of the Centre of Health Planning and Management and the School of Economic and Management Studies.

These were to be replaced with a smaller Business school that would be, allegedly, more in tune with the higher education market place. Out of 67 staff, 38 would have been made redundant, including ten of the 12 staff belonging to the SEMS Industrial Relations group.

SEMS is a major academic resource for the labour movement, training activists and officials, and providing commissioned research for trade union bodies. All this sits uneasily with management's corporate vision for Keele as a 'business-friendly' institution.

On 3 April around 250 people demonstrated their opposition to the closures as council, the university's governing body, met to decide the fates of the threatened departments. Unfortunately on that occasion management were successful, their plans were endorsed - the two student representatives being the only ones to vote against.

Union members decided to step up our action. The union's objectives were very modest - to negotiate the terms of the redundancies and the course content of the new business school. To that end UCU members refused to carry out certain bureaucratic procedures.

Staff in SEMS carried out a marking boycott and from 13 June, the national UCU was going to enforce an international 'greylisting' of Keele - an academic boycott of journals and conferences based at the university.

The day before the boycott was due to start the union announced that under pressure management had caved in to the union demand for meaningful negotiations.

A Keele worker

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In The Socialist 18 June 2008:

No! to racism: Yes! to decent jobs, homes and public services

No! to racism: Yes! to decent jobs, homes and public services

Unite and fight against racism

Protest at BNP 'hate festival'

Let AmDani stay!

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International socialist news and analysis

Lisbon Treaty 'No' vote delivers major shock for political and big business Establishment


Socialist Party campaigns

Shell drivers strike

David Davis - sanity or carving a position?

Greater Manchester - save your post office

London protest over Rajapaksa's dismal human rights record

Stop big business polluting our environment


Education

Stop New Labour's divisive school academy plans


Socialist Party NHS campaign

NHS: Polyclinics - Stop this backdoor privatisation

PFI - a very bad deal for the NHS

Reopen the battle on NHS pay


Socialist Party campaigns

End the occupations

Unison conference: Angry delegates attack leaders


Post office closures

Leeds: Stop Beeston post office closures


Socialist Party workplace news

National Shop Stewards Network Conference

CWU's link with Labour hotly debated

Victory against bosses at Keele

Workplace news in brief


 

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triangleUniversity workers' walkout for decent pensions

triangleFailing academy chain strips school assets - end academisation!

triangleLecturers vote for strikes against pension cuts

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