News

Support the SOAS Strikes: SOAS UNISON Strike Fund

9 September 2020
SOAS UNISON picket line

SUPPORT FUND FOR LOW-PAID STRIKING WORKERS AT SOAS, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON

UNISON members at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London will be striking on Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23 September to defend jobs and stop up to 88 potential compulsory redundancies among Professional Services staff at the university.

We need your support in our fight. Please consider donating to our Strike Fund for Low-paid SOAS Workers. SOAS UNISON members will be incredibly grateful for every donation, large or small.

What is happening?

SOAS workers are taking industrial action in response to the threat of significant numbers of compulsory redundancies at the university. SOAS management are seeking to implement their “Transformation and Change” restructuring project across both academic and professional services as a result of the Covid-19 and senior management’s longstanding mismanagement of university finances. SOAS has submitted a Section 188 notice to UNISON indicating that 159 professional services staff are at risk of redundancy, with 88 compulsory redundancies “expected” among these workers. Initially, management indicated that up to 127.5 FTE posts would be cut, although this has been revised following pressure from staff and students. Over 70 staff have already left under the university’s voluntary severance scheme, however SOAS is pressing ahead with the Section 188 compulsory redundancy process.

The impact of the proposed cuts on SOAS services will be dramatic, and include:

  • Closure of the onsite catering service
  • 40% reduction in total cleaning staff hours during a global pandemic
  • Cuts across student support services, including loss of specialist expertise in areas like departmental student support, distance learning, and the library and learning services
  • Proposals to outsource or privatise other university support services, including in admissions, IT, and finance teams

SOAS UNISON’s response:

The SOAS UNISON branch has a long standing policy opposing any compulsory redundancies at our university. In response to the School’s proposed cuts and its failure to rule out compulsory redundancies among staff, UNISON members’ voted resoundingly in favour of strike action during the recent industrial action ballot, with 74.84% Voting YES to Strike Action on a massive 71.89% turnout.

SOAS UNISON members will be taking two days of strike action on Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23 September. If SOAS management fails to give UNISON a commitment that no compulsory redundancies will go ahead, union members will be taking further and escalating industrial action in the coming weeks and months.

In addition, from 24 September UNISON members will also be undertaking continuous action short of a strike, including the withdrawal of goodwill and “working to rule”.

How can you help?

SOAS UNISON is asking for donations to its Strike Fund. Money will be used to provide hardship payments to striking SOAS workers, especially our lowest-paid union members who work in areas like cleaning and catering, to make sure they don’t suffer serious financial difficulties due to taking part in this important strike action. Your support will allow our UNISON branch to fight for longer to save workers’  jobs and defend key services for SOAS students, academic staff, and the wider community.

SOAS workers are now at the forefront of the fight against cuts and redundancies in higher education resulting from Covid-19 and the failure of the free-market experiment in the university sector. What happens here will have wider consequences for all HE staff.

We know it is a tough time for many workers. But if you are able, please chip in to our Strike Fund to help get us defend our jobs and ensure our members are able to support themselves and their families.

Here’s how you can donate:

Sort Code: 60-83-01

Account No: 49022162

Account Name: SOAS UNISON Branch

Payment reference (if required): IAF2020

*please drop us an email at unison@soas.ac.uk if you are sending us a cheque or bank transfer so we can keep an eye out for it, and reply to thank you.

#NoSOASWithoutUs #SupportSOASStrikes #WeAreSOAS

*** To be fully transparent: donated funds will only be used for hardship payments to striking workers. If we receive more money than is required for this industrial action, SOAS UNISON will hold any remaining money in our ring-fenced industrial action fund solely for similarly supporting striking SOAS workers in future disputes ***