Strike action averted at Heriot-Watt after last-minute agreement on redundancies

Strike action has been averted at Heriot-Watt University’s Galashiels campus after the dispute between the university and the UCU union was resolved.

Tuesday, 10th November 2020, 4:21 pm
Heriot-Watt University’s Borders Campus in Galashiels.
Heriot-Watt University’s Borders Campus in Galashiels.

Staff had voted for strike action over potential compulsory redundancies, which was due to begin on today.

The parties have been in detailed consultation since early August regarding the University’s proposal to cut over 100 jobs, a process which both parties say has been positive and constructive throughout.

Early in the consultation process, agreement was reached to open a voluntary redundancy programme and to explore other ways to avoid potential compulsory redundancies.

Following the progress made via this voluntary process, the university has indicated that the ongoing change programme will continue without the need for compulsory redundancies.

On this basis, agreement has been reached to resolve the dispute and UCU has cancelled the industrial action.

Both parties have committed to working together to build their approach to partnership working, aligned to the strategic goals of the university and to the Fair Work agenda as set out by the Scottish Government, working alongside the other recognised trade unions to ensure timely engagement on matters of interest to all colleagues.

Professor Mark Biggs, vice principal and provost at Heriot-Watt, said: “The university and UCU have worked closely together with very regular dialogue to support colleagues and students through the current challenging times arising from the Covid-19 situation.

“We are confident that this agreement, which resolves the formal dispute between us, marks a positive step forward for the whole university vommunity.”

George Bruce, UCU branch president, said: “Staff are relieved the threat to jobs is removed, and that we can now focus on providing the learning, student support and research that is so important to students, staff and the wider community.

“We are pleased that this agreement acknowledges the important role of trade unions and Fair Work as we move forward.”