Leeds University strike called off at eleventh hour

A STRIKE at Leeds University which had been set to start tomorrow has been suspended after 11th hours talks between university management and union bosses.

The University and College Union had been due to hold three-days of strike action at Leeds University in a dispute over the threat of compulsory redudancies.

However both Leeds University and the UCU have announced that the industrial action has been suspended following talks which have been brokered through ACAS.

The union said the immediate threat of compulsory redundancies at the university's Faculty of Biological Sciences has been lifted. The university and the union are also close to an agreement on a new process for managing any organisational change in future.

The UCU has said all industrial action will be suspended for up to four weeks. The decision was taken after an emergency general meeting of the union this lunchtime.

A Leeds University spokeswoman said: "Following talks through ACAS over the last week, the UCU has called off the three one-day strikes that were due to take place at the University tomorrow, March 2 and March 4.

"The University and the UCU are close to agreement on a new process of organisational change. The new process – which is subject to negotiation with the other two campus unions – is intended to reinforce collegiality and the engagement of staff in any process of organisational change. It represents a ground-breaking package enshrining the principles of openness, fairness, transparency and good governance in detailed new policies and procedures to promote job security, avoid redundancy and manage change."

The UCU' s Leeds representative, Dr Gavin Reid, said: "We are really pleased with progress made today, and in the past few meetings. The threat of immediate compulsory redundancies has been removed in the Faculty of Biological Sciences and both sides will now work to avoid them in future. We have suspended our planned industrial action to allow further talks to take place with the aim of getting a negotiated settlement."

The new process for managing organisational change will mean that if any plan includes job cuts if will need the approval of the University Council.

Leeds University is cutting jobs as part of a review of its Biological Sciences department and has also launched a major cost-cutting programme aimed at saving 35m by 2011 which the UCU fears could lead to up to 700 redundancies.

The university has said it does not know how many jobs will be cut until it gets a clearer picture of higher education funding from the Government in coming years. However its current estimate is around 400.