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Following very careful consideration of all the available information, the Branch Executive has suspended the planned strike action (and action short of a strike) scheduled for next week (21st, 23rd, 24th June).

The Branch decision is based on a number of factors, and in particular the significant progress made in the past week to avoid redundancies under statutory terms in the current round. The Branch has also received a response from the University which while not yet delivering a redundancy avoidance agreement does represent real movement towards establishing a set of protocols through which future financial challenges can be met. The Branch stresses that there is not yet agreement on these and that the decision to suspend immediate strike action does not represent an end to the dispute. The Branch judges, however, that time is now needed to pursue those discussions in a less confrontational atmosphere more likely to succeed in achieving its goals.

Many members remain deeply angered by the manner in which the University has pursued its Proposal for Change, and in particular the failure to explore as fully as possible genuinely voluntary means through which change could be achieved before proposing redundancies under statutory terms. The Branch remains absolutely resolute in its commitment to defending education and jobs, and avoiding statutory term redundancies at Sussex now or in the future.

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The following motion was passed unanimously by the Branch at yesterday’s General Meeting:

This branch condemns without reservation the suspension of a number of students and of Professors Peter Hallward and Peter Osborne [and Dr Christian Kerslake] by the management of Middlesex University, following their participation in a peaceful protest and teach-in against the closure of the Middlesex Philosophy Department. This action represents a fundamental attack on the rights of students and staff and Higher Education Institutions to engage in such peaceful protests. We call on the management of Middlesex University to reinstate these students and staff immediately.We also urge the management of Sussex University to join us in this call.

More information shortly on local matters!

Note: Dr Kerslake was added after the meeting when his suspension became known.

At another well attended branch meeting today, members voted in favour of escalating action in defence of jobs at Sussex. In a separate motion, the Branch also gave support to the Sussex Six, students facing disciplinary hearings following the occupation in early March.

Regarding future action, members were clear that any action must be tightly targeted and instructed the executive to report back within 7 days with detailed plans. The Branch also called for a wider academic boycott of the University should the threat of compulsory redundancies not be withdrawn.

Full motions (as amended by the meeting) can be downloaded here.

In an email circulated to students at the end of last week by management the following assertion was made about the negotiations with UCU and the other unions. In the email management claim:

“These consultations have resulted in substantial changes to the
University’s proposals.”

We beg to differ, and would like to point out that:

  1. a reduction from 115 to (now) 112 redundancies (5 were added last week) is not substantial (and some of the reduction is because people have already left in the normal course of events…)
  2. The School plans are barely changed (the largest change, the teaching-out provision in Life Sciences and Informatics, is an inevitable requirement and doesn’t change the underlying proposal).
  3. History is still cutting areas of pre-1900 European and pre-1700 English history.
  4. Staff in English are still facing redundancy because of what they used to teach.
  5. The student adviser roles are still all going.
  6. The UNISEX service is still under threat.
  7. The creche is still under threat.
  8. Jobs are still going in IT Services.
  9. 5 out of 6 of the UCU executive are still at risk of redundancy.

Yes, there have been modest improvements in some of the mechanisms being used to get rid of 112 staff, but that’s not substantial (and indeed not adequate). Nor is it a change to the ‘proposal’.

We do not take strike action lightly, and when many of us will be out of work later this year giving up pay is  the last thing we want to do. We’ve been left with little choice in face of the intransigence of management who continue to spend 10s of millions on buildings while ignoring the voice of staff and students.

The picket lines will be up from 7.00am. The day ends with a march and rally in Brighton.

The official strike/action day flyer for Wednesday 5th is attached as a pdf

Next Wednesday will see the largest day of action across the sector for many years. Sussex will be striking along with colleagues across London.

Join us at the picket and at the late afternoon event in Brighton. A march will set off from the Level at 4.30pm, arriving at The Old Ship (5.30 pm) where we will be holding a rally.

Chair: Jelena Timotijevic (UCU Brighton). Speakers to include:

Alasdair Hunter (National President of the UCU); Paul Cecil and Jim Guild (Chair and Secretary of the UCU at the University of Sussex); Tom Wills (President) and Syed Bokhiri from the University of Sussex Students’ Union; members of the University of Brighton Students’ Union; Sue Tribe (Adult and Continuing Education, Brighton); Tom Hickey (University of Brighton and National Executive UCU); Micheal O’Connell and Alison Kelly (Brighton City College); Michael Moran (Regional Official, UCU); …

… and prospective Parliamentary candidates who have been invited to give their views on the education cuts!