STRIKES are planned at Queen Margaret University in the next fortnight in a dispute over plans to axe 40 jobs.

The industrial action is scheduled for next Thursday (February 7), next Monday (February 11) and next Wednesday (February 13).

The strikes follow a ballot of University and College Union (UCU) Scotland members in which 64 per cent of those who voted supported industrial action on a turnout of 72 per cent.

Those set to strike work in academic and academic-related positions, including the library and student support.

The union says the row centres on cuts that would put more than 40 jobs at risk.

It argues that alternatives to the current plans – including resource sharing, management savings and extending the period of restructuring – have not been sufficiently explored. The local branch is considering its next steps.

The university employs 480 staff.

A spokesperson from Queen Margaret University said: “We are still actively in discussions with both unions, with meetings scheduled for next week, and are hopeful that we can make sufficient progress at these talks to avoid industrial action.

“As always, we will make every effort to minimise the impact of any strike action on our students if such action takes place.”

Mary Senior, UCU Scotland official, previously said that strike action was always a “last resort,” adding: “UCU members at Queen Margaret University have made it absolutely clear that they have no confidence in the university’s plans.

“The ballot result is a clear mandate for industrial action and to oppose plans for compulsory redundancies.

“Axing 10 per cent of the workforce would have a huge impact on the student experience and on the university’s reputation.”

The QMU spokesperson earlier said: “The university has not declared compulsory redundancies, committing itself to seeking to achieve the required reductions in staff costs voluntarily, and is making good progress on achieving this.

“Along with the rest of the higher education sector, QMU faces financial challenges, with grant funding falling in real terms over recent years and rising costs such as pension and National Insurance contributions.

“Despite a positive growth trajectory overall at QMU, with costs increasing faster than our income, we have had to take action to reset the balance and thus ensure we can continue to lead in providing relevant teaching and research.”