We will back your struggle against these cuts, Prentis tells OU members

Open University staff could be balloted over plans to close seven regional offices and lose 500 jobs

Open University staff will get full support in their campaign against plans to close seven regional offices and axe 500 jobs, general secretary Dave Prentis declared today when he visited UNISON’s OU branch to hear first hand the issues they face.

The university’s plans to close the regional offices in Birmingham, Oxford, Cambridge, Gateshead, Leeds, Bristol, and London have been condemned by both UNISON and academic union UCU – and by the university’s own senate which called them “very high risk”.

It added that the proposals “fail to support the academic mission of the university”.

UNSION is proposing to ballot all OU members for strike action to support colleagues in the regions. The 500 jobs at risk account for more than 11% of the university’s total staff.

“Closing these centres and losing these valuable staff would be disastrous for the Open University,” said Mr Prentis.

“Our members provide invaluable support for students, making sure the university can meet the access needs of disabled students; supplying course materials and assigning tutorial groups; organising exams; offering advice and managing degree ceremonies – everything that makes the OU the unique learning environment that it is.

“We value our members doing these vital jobs, and we would like to think the university does too.

“We will support our members and their branch. And if that means balloting them for strike action, we will do that.

“But we urge the university to work with us to find a better solution – not just for our members and other OU staff, but for the students and for the university itself.”