A university in Edinburgh has agreed to halt compulsory redundancies after union members voted overwhelmingly to take strike action in response.
Edinburgh Napier University had planned the scheme which Unison says was announced before alternative measures were touted or a credible financial case made.
The ballot for industrial action returned a “yes” vote of 84% in favour on a 68% turnout.
Unison Scotland says the ballot’s pressure and potential strikes during freshers’ week and the first week of teaching led to the agreement of a voluntary severance scheme instead.
Lorcan Mullen, Unison Scotland regional head of higher education, said: “Given the fact that so many Unison members were either working from home, furloughed or on annual leave during the ballot period, it is remarkable that the branch has comprehensively beaten the ballot thresholds mandated by anti-trade union legislation.
“This is testament to the strength of feeling among Napier members and their collective determination to protect jobs.
“The branch committee have worked incredibly hard to achieve this result and I am delighted they have received such backing from their members despite the limits and challenges of balloting during lockdown.
“The rest of the Scottish sector should be clear that Unison will fight to defend members’ jobs and that compulsory redundancies will only happen at the far end of a painful industrial dispute.
“Members and activists elsewhere should also take heart that cuts can be challenged effectively on a collective basis, even in these strange new times.”
A spokesman for the university also said: “Higher education institutions across Scotland, including Edinburgh Napier, are facing considerable challenges as the effects of Covid-19 impact finances.
“Following careful consideration, and consultation with the university’s schools, professional services and trade union representatives, we yesterday launched a voluntary severance scheme, the latest in a series of measures aimed at reducing the need for compulsory redundancies.”