STRIKE action at the University of Central Lancashire has been called off thanks to a breakthrough in negotiations.

The University and College Union had been due to strike on Thursday March 25 in opposition to the Preston and Burnley-based university's plan plan to sack six members of teaching staff in the Faculty of Culture and Creative Industries as part of a wider cuts policy across the university, totalling 67 jobs altogether, despite 200 staff having already accepted voluntary redundancy over the past 18 months.

However, the union says that negotiations with university managers has seen the number of roles at risk reduced to just four, with further talks planned in the near future.

In a joint statement, the union and the university said: "Over the past few weeks, the university and UCU have worked jointly to identify solutions for the remaining numbers of academic colleagues who are at risk of compulsory redundancy as a result of the restructuring exercises.

"This joint work has continued to deliver positive outcomes for colleagues, to the extent that the number of roles at risk has been reduced to four, with further discussions to be held over the coming days.

"The university is confident that the number will reduce still further as a result.

"Given the progress to date, the university and UCU have agreed that the priority is to give ourselves the time to pursue the work on finding individual solutions for those people concerned.

"As a result, UCU has agreed to suspend the planned industrial action and the university has agreed to suspend its formal redundancy selection process, and explore redeployment options for the outstanding roles.

"The university and UCU are committed to remaining in constructive dialogue."

UCU officials have welcomed the announcement and say that they are confident that, with further talks, they will find a solution for the remaining four members of staff whose jobs are under threat.

UCU regional official Martyn Moss said: "UCU is pleased the threat of compulsory redundancies has been lifted.

"We remain committed to working constructively with the university to find individual solutions for the staff concerned."