BBC West Midlands interviewed branch secretary Mike Moore: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3ZLOGrRhHM&t=3s
Birmingham Mail article:
‘University of Birmingham staff to strike for two days – what you need to know
Unison union members at the University began two days strike action with a rally in Victoria Square protesting for better pay and work conditions. Unison members said salaries for support staff have declined by up to 20% since 2009.
Members of Unison working at the University of Birmingham in Edgbaston are striking today for two days over a long running pay dispute.
Workers are striking today and Tuesday – September 2 and 3 after Unison said they were “left with no other choice” following over a year of attempts to negotiate with the University.
As part of the strike action a rally took place earlier this afternoon supported by Councillor Ian Ward and MP Liam Byrne.
Picket lines are open from 4.30am tomorrow at three university locations – by the Edgbaston Park Hotel, Grange Road and at the University train station – where there will be another rally at 11am.
Membership officer Ioana Chis told BirminghamLive: “The industrial action is aimed mainly to improve the pay and working conditions of support staff – such as cleaners, administrators, hospitality staff and security.
“We have tried to negotiate with the University on a set of key demands for over 12 months. We have been left with no other choice.
“We have five demands – these include getting a fair pay rise, have the university accredited as a living wage employer to give staff certainty about their pay and to show they are serious about stopping any further outsourcing. Also end the gender pay gap.
ou can find it in their own accounts that the University pay female staff 20% less than men.”
Mike Moore, who works in the University library and who spoke at today’s rally said: “The University can afford to do more. It’s a pretty wealthy organisation which makes millions of pounds in surpluses. Yet they don’t pay their staff in level with inflation, they are not a living wage employer. They can do so much more to tackle these and many other issues on campus. ”
Mr Moore added: “One of our members addressed a letter directly to the University’s Vice Chancellor, telling him that she has to work two jobs and often spends the entire weekend without sleep to balance family commitments and night work.
“She challenged him to try and live on the same salary for just a short period of time
“We delivered the letter on her behalf four weeks ago but still haven’t received a reply. So we have decided to make this letter public and hand it out to passersby today so they know more about why we have taken this action.
“The only firm commitment the University has made at this point is to increase the 2% pay increase they were planning to offer for next year by a mere 1%.”
A key issue for Unison members are the pay and conditions of staff at the University of Birmingham hotel, Edgbaston Park Hotel and Conference Centre – on the main campus.
Miss Chis told BirminghamLive: “The University outsourced staff and set up this wholly owned subsidiary company to run the hotel but ultimately the University owns it.
Staff at the hotel have had a 1p per hour raise this year – bringing their wage to £8.21 a hour. Meanwhile there are at 109 managers at the University earning more than £100k a year.”
Julie Davis, an information assistant at the University who attended the rally claimed: “The treatment of staff at the hotel is shocking. They not paid fair wages and are being mistreated.
“Staff are not allowed to be union members, they are on minimum wages, zero hours contract. They have to work long hours and months before they get any sick leave. We are fighting so they get the fairer work rights they should be entitled to.
“The Vice Chancellor earns £444k on his university job alone. They try to make out we are greedy – but that’s not the case. We just want a fair deal for everyone. “
A University of Birmingham spokeswoman told BirminghamLive: “We have met with Unison a number of times to try to bring an end to the dispute and are disappointed that Unison have continued to take this action.
“Support staff were awarded (and paid) a 2% pay increase with effect from August 2018 and were offered a 3% pay increase with effect from August 2019 if they called off the action, significantly higher than the increases at other universities and the wider public sector.
“We understand that staff earning the lowest salaries can be most affected by rises in the costs of living and cuts in government services. This is why we put forward a 3% pay increase, significantly higher than the 1.8% increase being offered to support staff at other universities and settlements concluded in the public sector, where the highest increase will be 2.9% for the armed forces.
“In addition, we also offered to continue to match the voluntary Living Wage (vLW) for at least a further three years, consistent with the approach we have taken for the last four years.
“We are anticipating that any impact will be manageable and are working to ensure that our operations will continue as smoothly as possible on any strike days. We are confident that the large majority of staff will be working normally.”