Open University staff to strike over job cuts and centre closures

Open University (OU) staff have voted to strike over up to 500 job losses and the closure of seven offices.

Regional centres in Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Gateshead, Leeds, London and Oxford are to shut.

Members may also strike at OU offices in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Milton Keynes, Manchester and Nottingham.

The University and College Union (UCU), said managers were alone in thinking the plans were a good idea. The OU said it was disappointed over the vote.

It said it wanted to work with union members constructively.

‘Mandate for action’

A spokesman for the Milton Keynes-based university, said: “We do not believe industrial action will lead to anything positive, either for our staff or students.

“The proposals to replace seven smaller support centres in England with three larger centres would allow us to invest more in student support.”

UCU branch members will meet next week to decide when the strike will take place and how long they would walk out.

A spokesman also said the meeting would decide if all OU branches would walk out or whether it would be confined to those due to close.

Pauline Collins, of the UCU, said: “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.

“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.”