Socialist Worker

Strong strike at Birmingham university sees bigger picket lines and union recruits

by Doug Morgan
Issue No. 2663

Pickets on strike at Birmingham university on Tuesday

Pickets on strike at Birmingham university on Tuesday (Pic: Doug Morgan)


Unison union members at Birmingham university struck on Tuesday. The strike is over a number of issues, including the fight to make sure all staff, whether directly employed or not, receives the living wage.

Workers have already struck once. They are set to strike again on Wednesday, and for more days after that if the dispute is not resolved.

The university is beginning to move. It paid a 2 percent pay rise this year (not agreed with the union) and on Tuesday offered an extra 1 percent consolidated rise.

Strikers have rejected this as it doesn’t address other issues, such as zero hour contracts and a living wage.

One striker told Socialist Worker, “I’ve done quite a few different jobs at the university. What is expected of you, as a 400 grade, the stress and workload are unmanageable.

“That’s not unusual here. After maternity leave I came back here as a 300 grade on 20 hours.

Demotion

“This is more manageable but no one should have to take a demotion or pay cut to have a manageable job.

“We want to be listened to, so we’ve struck. They’ve made a slightly better offer but it’s not enough.

“The vice chancellor is still on half a million, while some staff have to use food banks and take second jobs.”

Rory is the Labour link officer for Birmingham university Unison branch. He told Socialist Worker, “This is the second day of strike action and the number of people on picket lines has increased. Our Unison membership has grown.

“We’ve had a groundswell of support from non-members and are grateful for support from the region, other unions, councillors and some MPs.

“Our vice chancellor is probably one of the highest paid in the country, yet some of the staff are the lowest paid in the city. This is unacceptable. It has to stop and the university has to accept that it has to be a living wage employer.”


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