Sussex University staff have called off proposed strikes which were expected to affect students’ exams.
The University and College Union (UCU) said that it had suspended the strike action – due to start yesterday (Friday 18 June) and continue on Monday – after good progress in talks.
The proposed strikes were in protest at plans to cut more than 100 jobs at the university’s campus in Falmer.
The UCU said: “After a series of talks and significant progress towards avoiding any compulsory redundancies the union has said that Friday’s action has been suspended while it considers new proposals from management.
“The union has the right to reinstate the action if it feels the talks are not progressing in good faith.”
The union’s regional official for Sussex Michael Moran said that he was pleased with the progress made during talks which he said was the result of intensive work by the branch.
He added: “No one here is in the mood for celebration. There will still be sizeable cuts to the workforce which will inevitably impact on the student experience.”
The university’s deputy vice-chancellor Professor Paul Layzell said: “Our understanding is that UCU has accepted that the measures taken by Sussex provide the basis for them now to stand down their strike action, which was targeted on the examination process.
“Our students can now be reassured that this risk to their exams and assessment has been removed.
“Finalists can look forward with confidence to graduation in July.
“We have always said we wanted the necessary job reductions in targeted areas to take place without the need for compulsory redundancies.
“We have never been able to rule out compulsory redundancies but it would appear that the four voluntary schemes that we put in place in March 2010 following consultation with the three campus trade unions have enabled us to avoid them.
“Neither strike action nor threats of academic boycotts played a role in the positive discussions which we have had throughout with all three campus trade unions.
“All we have put in place has been through consultation.”
The university said that it would be able to cut costs by £5 million a year by implementing its Proposal for Change.
This should prevent the university’s budget falling into the red over the next two to three years unless the Higher Education Funding Council for Education (HEFCE) grant settlement worsened significantly.
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