In response to next week’s planned strike action by SOAS UNISON members over the threat of compulsory redundancies at SOAS, University of London, the School management yesterday backtracked and made the binding commitment to UNISON that there will be no Professional Services compulsory redundancies during the Transformation and Change restructuring project.
The SOAS UNISON industrial action planned for 22nd and 23rd September has been called off as a result of a School-UNISON agreement, in which the School commits that no member of Professional Services staff will be made compulsorily redundant during the restructuring.
The agreement means those Professional Services staff – including cleaning, catering, administrative and Library workers – who were facing redundancy at the end of this month, will now be offered an extended redeployment period, during which time they will receive individualised support and development training to help them find alternative employment within the new School structure. No member of Professional Services staff will be made redundant involuntarily at SOAS – something which will always be an absolute “red line” for our branch.
We would like to thank our members for the solidarity they have shown to each other during this dispute. Their overwhelming vote in favour of strike action (74.84% Voting YES), on a huge turnout (71.89%), was absolutely pivotal in forcing management back to the negotiating table over the issue of redundancies. Here at SOAS we have shown that if we organise and are prepared to take robust strike action in defence of jobs we can win! Hopefully our success will inspire other HE workers facing cuts and redundancies at their own institutions.
We acknowledge that the removal of the threat of redundancy, whilst an important victory, does not resolve all issues our members will face as a result of the Transformation and Change restructure, which will include proposed changes to shift patterns and in many cases intolerable workloads due to the loss of colleagues through voluntary severance. In the coming weeks, UNISON will be launching a new fair workload campaign to ensure all SOAS staff have manageable workloads and are appropriately remunerated for the duties they perform in the new School structure.
Lastly, we would like to thank all our students, colleagues, and supporters for their solidarity and support during our dispute.
Strikes work. Redundancies can be fought.
SOAS UNISON Branch Committee