Higher education staff will walk out from today (Monday) in a new wave of strikes over inadequate pay, says UNISON.
Administrators, cleaners, library, security and catering workers – many of them among the lowest paid in the university sector – are among those taking industrial action.
The employees are after a fair pay rise to help them cope with soaring prices. This follows several years where wages have failed to keep pace with inflation, the union says.
For most of the 19 institutions affected, this is the second wave of industrial action this term. There has already been disruption at universities in England and Scotland, with a series of strikes in September and October.
The university support staff rejected a 3% pay rise from the Universities and Colleges Employers Association back in May.
With the lowest measure of inflation currently 11.1%, the rise in living costs is three times greater than the workers’ pay increase. This amounts to a substantial cut, leaving staff out of pocket and struggling, UNISON says.
Universities in Aberdeen, Brighton, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester are among those affected, says UNISON. Staff at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester have also announced dates.
UNISON head of education Mike Short said:
“Low pay has been a massive, and growing, problem in the university sector for more than a decade.
“The cost of living crisis is pushing people to the brink. University support staff can’t even cover the basics. They’ve had enough and are quitting the sector for jobs on better pay.
“Going on strike is always a last resort, but the inadequate pay workers have been given this year is the final straw.
“The universities should do the right thing and come back with more money to show they care about their employees. This would help keep them in their posts so students can receive the support they need and have the best possible experience of university.”