Ballot of UCU members is already underway over plans to close seven regional centres and axe 500 jobs

Open UniversityUNISON members at the Open University are to be balloted for strike action over plans to close seven regional offices and axe 500 jobs.

A ballot of UCU members is already underway, with the result expected next week.

The university’s plans to close the regional offices in Birmingham, Oxford, Cambridge, Gateshead, Leeds, Bristol, and London have been condemned by both unions – and by the university’s own senate which called them “very high risk”, saying the proposals “failed to support the academic mission of the university”.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Closing these centres and losing these valuable staff would be disastrous for the Open University.

“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.”

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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