University of Leeds staff vote for 48-hour strike amid dismissal policy row

Academic staff at a second university are to stage a 48-hour strike this month after voting for action in a row over dismissal policy.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at the University of Leeds will walk out from October 11, claiming changes to its employment statute will lead to a new "catch-all" power to sack staff.

Union members at Manchester University will strike for 48 hours from October 23 in a separate row over jobs.

UCU Leeds branch president Vicky Blake said: "The University of Leeds is insisting on an open-ended catch-all power to dismiss staff on the grounds of 'some other substantial reason', posing a serious threat to our members' job security.

"We believe the change could enable the university to sack people for all sorts of dubious reasons and may restrict staff from pursuing new ideas or controversial topics within their daily work."

A Leeds University spokesman said: "The university is not introducing any new grounds for dismissal, it is simply modernising the procedures it would follow, in the interests of openness and transparency.

"Checks and balances that prevent any abuse of procedures have been included, and the principle and protection of academic freedom - a cornerstone of our constitution - is made explicit in all relevant procedures.

"We are disappointed with the decision to take industrial action, which we genuinely believe is unnecessary.

"We will do everything we can to ensure that students are not adversely affected. Only a small proportion of our staff took part in an equivalent strike earlier this year."

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