The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Open University staff vote for strike action

Hundreds of jobs are at stake as the Open University proposes closures of seven centres around the UK

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Staff at the Open University, the largest academic institution in the UK, have voted to strike in a dispute over the proposed closure of seven regional centres. Up to 502 jobs are at risk as part of the planned move.

72 per cent of Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) members balloted voted for strike action, whilst 83 per cent supported action short of a strike.

The seven centres earmarked for closure are in Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Gateshead, Leeds, London, and Oxford.

Staff walkouts could also take place in the university’s office in Manchester, as well as Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Milton Keynes, and Nottingham.

Members of the UCU are to meet this week to decide when, where and for how long strike action will take place.

UCU Open University branch president Pauline Collins claimed that “the only people who still seem to think that axing 500 jobs and closing down seven regional Open University Centres is a good idea are the senior managers.

“The academic body at the university rejected the plans at its senate meeting and now the staff have given an overwhelming mandate for strike action for the first time in its history.”

She added, “We hope managers will now see sense and work with us to deliver changes that will not be so devastating for the staff, students or future of the Open University.”

The Open University said it was disappointed with the result of the ballot. A spokesman for the university said: “We do not believe industrial action will lead to anything positive, either for our staff or students.

“We recognise this is a difficult time for staff affected and we want to work positively with unions to look after staff in the best possible way. Our services to students would be enhanced by these proposals and no existing services to students will be withdrawn.”

A council meeting will take place on the 24th of November, where members will vote on whether the controversial plans will be put into effect.