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Walk out 'would damage studies' at Wrexham university

Published date: 18 June 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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UNIVERSITY bosses have urged staff who voted in favour of strike action to consider the impact industrial action will have on students.

No date has yet been set for the walk-out by staff at Glyndwr University staff, which was announced on Monday after the Glyndwr branch of the University and College Union (UCU) voted in favour of the action.

Yesterday, university bosses in Wrexham responded to fierce UCU criticism and said it would “make every effort” to minimise disruption for students.

More than 80 per cent of the UCU branch members voted in favour of the strike, with 57 per cent of those eligible to vote taking part.

But the university said the turnout represented only the equivalent to less than 10 per cent of full-time Glyndwr staff or 17 per cent of all academic staff.

“It does not represent a majority view,” a spokesman said.

In a statement, a Glyndwr spokesman said: “We are naturally disappointed UCU members have voted in favour of industrial action.

“We are of the view that this stance does not reflect the views of the wider university population.”

Earlier this year, the university announced plans to trim up to 60 staff as part of a wide-ranging reorganisation.

Opportunities for voluntary redundancies are being explored and bosses said complusory job losses would be avoided at all costs.

“The current stance adopted by UCU is unfortunate as the university continues its efforts to avoid compulsory redundancies as part of an ongoing process,” the spokesman said.

“We urge UCU members who have voted in this way to consider the impact on the wider university population as well as our students.

“The university will make every effort to ensure any disruption to the student experience is kept to the absolute minimum.”

The university response followed a statement released by the UCU earlier on Tuesday which claimed the university is in dire financial trouble.

It said the Racecourse Stadium, owned by the university, is operating at a loss of £317,000 before depreciation.

It also alleged a voluntary severance scheme saw 77 members of university staff leave between August 2013 and February 2014 at a time when the university is trying to cut staff numbers – but UCU said 77 new staff joined the institution over the same period.

And the UCU statement said the university’s income for the year ending July 2013 was down £4.5m on the previous year and its predicted surplus for 2014-15 is still only £145,000.

The union has also written to Welsh Minister for Education and Skills, Huw Lewis AM, detailing what it calls the “financial mess” at Glyndwr.

But Glyndwr refuted some of the claims, saying the assertions were “not credible” and called the UCU’s financial statements “selective at best”.

A university spokesman said: “The university considers it inappropriate to discuss its organisational affairs in a public forum and will continue to adhere to this position – save for correcting inaccuracies which it considers to be manifestly damaging to its interests.

“Having considered the quoted assertions made by a UCU spokesperson, the university feels the information on which they appear to be based represents selective quoting at best.

“The projected financial losses of the (Racecourse) stadium as highlighted by UCU omit to consider that the ground is a valuable resource for the university, as well as providing an asset on which it can attract additional income, which is part of its strategic plan.

“The stadium also has an intrinsic value to the community of Wrexham, which the university serves as part of its mission.

“The quoted assertion the university’s predicted surplus for 2014-15 is “is still only £145,000” paints an inaccurate picture as the group surplus is actually £463,000.

This is also a matter of public record.

“Based on the above, the university does not consider the views of the quoted UCU regional official as credible.”

The spokesman added: “The university is confident its vice-chancellor and board of governors represent the best resource for meeting its current and future challenges.”

UCU said it would give details of strike action in the coming days.

For more news from across the region visit newsnorthwales.co.uk

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