Staff vote to strike at Edinburgh’s Queen Margaret University

Staff at Edinburgh’s Queen Margaret University have backed strike action in a dispute over plans to axe 40 jobs.

In the ballot of University and College Union (UCU) Scotland members, 64% of those who voted backed strike action on a turnout of 72%.

The university is proposing to cut about 10% of its workforce amid a series of “financial challenges”.

It said it was disappointed in the vote and it would continue a consultation with staff and the union.

The UCU claims the cut to staff numbers would negatively affect students’ experience and the university’s reputation.

It said the university had “not fully explored other options such as sharing resources”.

‘Financial challenges’

UCU Scotland official Mary Senior said members had made it “absolutely clear” that they have no confidence in the university’s plans.

“The ballot result is a clear mandate for industrial action and to oppose plans for compulsory redundancies,” she said.

“Axing 10% of the workforce would have a huge impact on the student experience and on the university’s reputation.

“Strike action is always a last resort but unless the university is prepared to reconsider its approach, disruption is a real possibility.”

The local branch is due to meet later this week to consider its next steps.

A spokeswoman from Queen Margaret University said: “Along with the rest of the higher education sector, QMU faces financial challenges with grant funding falling in real terms over recent years and rising costs such as pension and National Insurance contributions.

“With costs increasing faster than our income, we have had to take action to reset the balance, and thus ensure we can continue to lead in providing relevant teaching and research and to continue to provide the supportive and stimulating learning environment of which we are so proud.

“We have been engaging with our staff and our trade unions on this for several months, and continue to engage with them and to consider fully all options.

“The university has not declared compulsory redundancies, committing itself to seeking to achieve the required reductions in staff costs voluntarily, and is making good progress on achieving this. “