Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Historic UK-wide strike to hit universities on Thu 31 Oct

Wed 30 October

Feelings are running high ahead of the first strike to hit universities involving all three higher education unions, UNISON, UCU and Unite. The UK wide strike is to go ahead tomorrow, Thursday 31 October, after university employers ignored calls to make a last minute improved offer to defuse tensions and avoid disruption to students.

UNISON members are upset and angry at the 1% pay offer which see their pay fall by nearly 15% over the past four years.  Over 4,000 staff are currently paid below the Living Wage while over half of vice-chancellors earn over £242,000 - 18 times more than the lowest paid.   1% of £13,486 is just £134.86 a year, £11.23 a month – not enough to cover the latest gas bill rises.  By contrast, even if Vice Chancellors stick to a 1% increase – which would be a big surprise – they would trouser an extra £2,420 a year.

The disruption will go much further than lectures as UNISON’s members carry out a wide variety of jobs such as supporting students on campus, in libraries, course administration, catering, cleaning and security. Many of the roles, particularly the catering and cleaning are paid at salaries below the Living Wage of £7.45p (London Living Wage £8.55p).

Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, who will be joining members on the picket line tomorrow in London (details below) said:

“Taking strike action is never an easy decision, especially for those already struggling on low pay. With Christmas less than two months away losing a day’s pay is even harder, but it shows just how angry and upset our members feel at this miserly 1% offer.

“Even members earning above the Living Wage are finding their incomes squeezed to breaking point.  It is a disgrace that universities are sitting on cash surpluses worth £2bn, but they are not prepared to reward their staff, who are the backbone of our world class university system.

“We know that the total wage bill is falling while staff numbers have increased – that dynamic spells misery for many thousands of families.  It is time for university employers to think again about the value that they place on their workforce and come back with a better offer.”

Notes to Editors

UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis and Jon Richards, UNISON Head of Education will join picket lines in London at approx 9.30am - University College London - Gower Street - London - WC1E 6BT and Westminster University 309 Regent St, Paddington, London W1B 2UW - at approx 10.20

·              Higher education has a greater gender pay gap than the rest of the public sector

·              More than half of higher education institutions are using zero hours contracts and the numbers are growing

·              In the last two years surpluses in the sector have been over £2bn.  Student fee income has more than offset cuts in government grants.

UK wide snapshot of action hotspots

Brighton - 12.00 Assemble Victoria Gardens (Grand Parade); 12.30 start march through Brighton to Church Street; 13.00 disperse for rally in Corn Exchange to finish no later than 14.30.

- 11:00am rally at Senate House;
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady will be visiting picket lines.

Cambridge  - 12 noon at Central St Mary's church (outside Senate House).

Exeter - joint trade union rally, 12:30pm, Phoenix Theatre < <> > ; UCU speaker: Barry Lovejoy

- Thursday 31 October: assembling after picketing, 11.30, Parkinson Building steps, Leeds University.  Joint union march, to rally in Victoria Gardens or City Square, depending on availability. UCU speaker: Paul Bridge

Leicester - 1.30pm rally at Nelson Mandela Park.

Liverpool - rally information details to follow

London -: rally, 2pm Conway Hall, Red Lion Square <,+25+Red+Lion+Square,+London,+UK&hl=en&sll=53.800651,-4.064941&sspn=18.461747,46.538086&oq=25+RED+LION&hnear=Conway+Hall,+25+Red+Lion+Square,+London,+Greater+London+WC1R+4RL,+United+Kingdom&t=m&z=14&iwloc=A <,+25+Red+Lion+Square,+London,+UK&amp;hl=en&amp;sll=53.800651,-4.064941&amp;sspn=18.461747,46.538086&amp;oq=25+RED+LION&amp;hnear=Conway+Hall,+25+Red+Lion+Square,+London,+Greater+London+WC1R+4RL,+United+Kingdom&a>  <,+25+Red+Lion+Square,+London,+UK&hl=en&sll=53.800651,-4.064941&sspn=18.461747,46.538086&oq=25+RED+LION&hnear=Conway+Hall,+25+Red+Lion+Square,+London,+Greater+London+WC1R+4RL,+United+Kingdom&t=m&z=14&iwloc=A <,+25+Red+Lion+Square,+London,+UK&amp;hl=en&amp;sll=53.800651,-4.064941&amp;sspn=18.461747,46.538086&amp;oq=25+RED+LION&amp;hnear=Conway+Hall,+25+Red+Lion+Square,+London,+Greater+London+WC1R+4RL,+United+Kingdom&a> > > , near Holborn; UCU speaker Michael MacNeil; UCU speaker Michael MacNeil

- 12.30pm rally at Club Academy, University of Manchester Students Union, Oxford Road. The meeting is to be chaired by Lynn Collins (North West TUC Regional Secretary). On the platform will be Kevan Nelson (Unison), Dominique Lauterburg (UCU NEC), Unite the Union speaker (TBC) and NUS president Toni Pearce: download the Manchester rally publicity poster (.pdf) [99kb] < <> < &lt;>  < &lt;> < &amp;lt;>   < &lt;> < &amp;lt;>  < &amp;lt;> < &amp;amp;lt;>    >
Newcastle - Assemble 12.30 for 1 pm Grey's Monument, Newcastle. UCU speaker: Liz Lawrence: download the Newcastle rally publicity poster (.pdf) [113kb] < <> < &lt;>  < &lt;> < &amp;lt;>   < &lt;> < &amp;lt;>  < &amp;lt;> < &amp;amp;lt;>    >

Oxford - rally in the Council Chamber at Oxford Town Hall from 1-2pm; speakers from all three unions including
Jon Richards, UNISON Head of Education.

Sheffield - rally at 12.00 at the St Matthews Hall in the centre of Sheffield: UCU speaker: Simon Renton

Southampton - rally at Guildhall Square in Southampton < <> < &lt;>  < &lt;> < &amp;lt;>   < &lt;> < &amp;lt;>  < &amp;lt;> < &amp;amp;lt;>    )>  between midday and 1.30pm.

 - Rally: 12 noon - 1pm, Bristo Square. Speakers: Mary Senior (UCU Scotland Official), Gordon Maloney (NUS Scotland President), Ann Henderson (Assistant Secretary STUC), Emma Phillips (Regional Officer, Unison) plus speakers from Unite.

Glasgow - Rally: 12 noon - 1pm, Adelaide's Baptist Church, Bath Street. Speakers: Dave Anderson (UCU Scotland President, Robert Foster (NUS Scotland Vice President), Dave Moxham (Deputy General Secretary STUC), Davena Rankin (Unison) plus a speaker from Unite.
St Andrews - Rally at Church Square, 12 noon

- details tbc

Cardiff - rally outside the Main Building of Cardiff University at 11.30am on Thursday 31st October 2013. Speakers: Margaret Phelan, (UCU Wales official), John Toner (UNITE) and a speaker from Unison tbc 


News release from UNISON UK press office

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