Support staff at Birmingham University are to take further strike action today (Monday) and tomorrow (Tuesday) in their long-running industrial dispute over fair pay, equality and improved working conditions.
The action follows an intervention by seven of the city’s nine MPs who wrote to the university last week in an attempt to resolve the dispute.
Local MPs Preet Gill, Jack Dromey, Liam Byrne, Roger Godsiff, Richard Burden, Steve McCabe and Jess Phillips all signed the letter, calling on the university to do more to be a “world class employer” and emphasising the “moral imperative” for the institution to use its financial resources to improve the situation of struggling staff.
The MPs highlighted the university’s refusal to pay a backdated pay settlement and move towards real living wage accreditation, key steps UNISON has highlighted to end the dispute.
UNISON branch secretary Mike Moore said:
“The university has failed to realise the strength of feeling and the extent to which support staff need a proper pay rise.
“Last month a member of staff wrote to the vice chancellor about the financial hardship she’s suffering. She has two jobs and often goes the entire weekend without sleep, juggling family commitments and her night work. In the letter she challenged him to try to live on her salary. We delivered the letter on her behalf four weeks ago but still haven’t received a reply.”
Today university support staff are taking their pay campaign to the city centre, where they’ll be handing out leaflets from 8am before heading to a rally at noon in Victoria Square. This will be followed by a day of pickets on campus tomorrow (Tuesday).
The cleaners, porters, administrative staff and catering workers who belong to UNISON have already been on strike for three days and are prepared to take further measures to get the university to move its position.
UNISON members were previously on strike on 28 June, as well as 16 and 17 July.
The letter sent to the vice chancellor from a UNISON member can be found here.
A full copy of the letter from Birmingham MPs to the University can be found here.
David Eastwood is one of the highest paid vice chancellors in the country, earning £444,000 a year, as well as £90,000 as chair of the USS pension scheme. He also benefits from a one-off incentive bonus of £80,000. Over 100 other senior managers at the university are paid more than £100,000 a year.