Call for action: How Non-Members can support UNISON’s campaigns during the dispute in 2019

 This page is relevant to:

Students and Alumni Staff at the University of Birmingham Media outlets Other trade union branches and campaigning groups Councillors, MPs

Our main two campaigns starting in May 2019 are:

  • to improve working conditions and pay for staff working at the University of Birmingham (this also has implications for the pay and terms and conditions for students working through Worklink)
  • to end outsourcing on campus by bringing Edgbaston Park Hotel staff (EPH is a wholly-owned subsidiary company set up by the University in July 2018) in-house, so they benefit from the same pay and terms and conditions as everyone else on campus.

If you would like to help and support these campaigns, here’s what you can do either on campus or remotely (we will try to keep updating this page, whenever we get more ideas):

What you can do on campus:

  • join the group of active campaigners for flyering rotas on campus (i.e. to give out flyers about the strike ballot and campaign all around the campus, in a coordinated manner);
    • have flyers with you at all times, for whenever you encounter support staff throughout your day on campus (i.e. if you have a meeting at a Café with a friend, make sure that you give a flyer to the baristas working there);
  • volunteer for phone banking sessions (the active campaigners can share a script with you);
  • organise events with your society/ research group/ collective to discuss the dispute; UNISON members would be happy to join your event as speakers;
  • mention the dispute in any events that you attend from May onwards, at University assemblies, team meetings, student group meetings, and so on;
  • create placards, posters, and any other artefacts for the campaign.


What you can do remotely:

Letters (to ask for support, and/or to contact the University):

  • write emails/letters (or Social Media posts) to your councillors, MPs, campaigning organisations, student groups, research groups, or anyone whom you know care about the issues in the campaign.
    • Ask them to publicly support the campaign by writing letters to University senior management, and publishing the online.
    • ask them to sign and share the petition to bring outsourced staff in-house
  • write letters addressed to University senior management to ask them to end the dispute and address our points
  • write emails to support staff at the University of Birmingham (in your department and/or beyond) with a short message of solidarity, showing that you support the campaign, and giving them a link to UNISON’s joining page so that they join the union, in case they haven’t yet.

Make all of the above public. 

Blog posts, short reflection pieces, and messages of solidarity:

  • write short blog-posts on any of the matters of this campaign. They could be:
    • reflection pieces on, for instance, the importance of ending the gender pay gap
    • positioned reflection pieces where you show solidarity with the campaign, and relate to its demands as an ally. For instance, why as a student do you care about support staff being treated fairly at the University? Or why, as an academic member of staff, do you believe that Living Wage Accreditation is something that the University cannot afford not to pursue? Why, as an alumni, are you disappointed with the way in which the University makes decisions?

Videos/ vlogs:

  • create and post short videos/vlogs online, in which you show support with the campaign and invite others to show support too.
  • we would also appreciate any creative use of videos by, for instance, making references to popular culture!

Poetry, prose, and slogans:

  • these would be invaluable to attract the attention and support of others, and they help make the campaign a creative and positive endeavour!


  • for a free platform to create good quality platforms, try canva.com
  • posters that either show solidarity with the campaigners, or posters that highlight particular matters in the dispute would be very helpful. Please share them on social media and with us. A particularly good example of an excellent poster that we would like to share with you can be found here. It was created by the rank-and-file group of striking UCU members, during the USS strikes. It features Cher, and the slogan reads: ‘Do you believe in life after work? Strike for pensions so we can, too’.

Puppet shows:

  • do you enjoy theatre plays and puppet shows? why not create a 1.5 minute show with a few puppets talking about the future strike? Perhaps they might want to address the Vice Chancellor in the video?


  • you can use this website https://giphy.com/create/gifmaker or this website https://gifmaker.me/ to create GIFs and memes. Please share them and use the hashtag for the campaign.

Importantly, you need to be aware of why it is crucial that you do not cross the picket line. Also, be prepared to answer that question when asked by others. 

Here are a few resources:

  1. https://libcom.org/forums/organise/why-shouldnt-students-cross-picket-lines-principle-19022014
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/mar/21/cross-picket-line-british-airways-observer-panel

Communications with the media:

  • if you have contacts who work in the media (radio, television, newspapers, online outlets), please email them to let them know about the campaign and dispute. UNISON would be happy to offer quotes and any support you need throughout the process of contacting media outlets.

Donate towards the strike fund:

  • we will provide more details on this soon.


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