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Unions in talks with UEA to avoid compulsory redundancies

PUBLISHED: 08:04 10 July 2020 | UPDATED: 08:04 10 July 2020

Unions say they hope talks can avert compulsory redundancies at the UEA. Picture: Supplied

Unions say they hope talks can avert compulsory redundancies at the UEA. Picture: Supplied

Supplied

Unions representing staff at the University of East Anglia say they are hopeful of avoiding compulsory redundancies after a series of talks.

The UEA is facing losses of up to £35m next year due to the impact of coronavirus. Picture: Mike PageThe UEA is facing losses of up to £35m next year due to the impact of coronavirus. Picture: Mike Page

The UEA, which employs 3,712 people, is facing losses of up to £35m next year due to the impact of coronavirus that could see a fall in student numbers.

The university said it was “working productively with the unions” on a series of measures to address the financial impact of the pandemic.

Senior staff are being asked to take voluntary pay cuts. The university has also offered all staff the voluntary temporary proposal to reduce their working week and take an equivalent reduction in salary.

Talks are taking place between unions and the UEA. Picture: Denise BradleyTalks are taking place between unions and the UEA. Picture: Denise Bradley

MORE: Predicted £35m losses sees UEA ask staff to take pay cuts and cut hours

Ben Monks, regional support official for the University and College Union (UCU), who has been involved in talks, said: “We have had a week-long process and what has come out of that is measures to try to avoid compulsory redundancies. That has been a stated aim of the university from the off.

“What we are trying to do at the moment is come up with a negotiated agreement and put that to our members because there might be an impact on their terms and conditions.

“The situation we have isn’t the normal situation of an employer taking a hard approach, however there will be some impact on staffing going forward.

Around 3,000 of the almost 17,000 students at UEA are international students. Picture: SuppliedAround 3,000 of the almost 17,000 students at UEA are international students. Picture: Supplied

“From my point of view I am reasonably optimistic we are going to meet our aim of keeping compulsory redundancies off the table.”

Unison UEA branch secretary Amanda Chenery-Howes said: “This is a hugely uncertain time for everyone in higher education and we’re working with the university to do all we can to reduce the risk of compulsory redundancies and combat efforts to freeze staff pay.

“But amid all the uncertainty in the sector one thing is certain: universities need their excellent workforce now more than ever.

“Universities will play a vital role in getting this country through the pandemic, in rebuilding the economy and in providing valuable opportunities to new students.

MORE: Hundreds sign letter to UEA over protection for teaching staff roles

“They need proper support from the government to get through the present crisis until they can start powering our economic recovery.”

The UEA, which has almost 17,000 students, 3,000 from overseas, has said it expects to be “significantly impacted” by a drop in international enrolments next year.

But Mr Monks said: “We are getting some fairly optimistic messaging about measures that the university is taking to push up student recruitment numbers.

“The predictive figures that we have seen aren’t ideal but we are not talking about the worst of drop-offs.”


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