Tuesday, 19 June 2012

UNISON members at University of Birmingham prepares to strike over pay

UNISON members at the University of Birmingham are set to take strike action on 21st and 22nd June over pay. UNISON members voted by a clear two to one margin to take industrial action.

Members have been in formal dispute with Birmingham University since December and the branch said it had been left with no alternative but to ballot for industrial action - the first in 30 years - after negotiations over pay reached an impasse.

The university said its offer of £250 a year amounts to 1.9% and that this is the highest offer made in the higher education sector this year.

But the branch retorted that that amount would only be paid to 77 staff out of 2,169 support staff at the university.

UNISON's members are cleaners, catering assistants, administrators and earn as little as £13,000 a year full time before tax. They only receive a maximum of six months sick pay - while academic staff get 12 months - and the university is ending bank holiday and weekend allowances.

Last year the university's surplus rose from £22.3m to £27m per year.

UNISON regional organiser Dawn Sant added: "There are other universities who have paid 2% to their lowest paid, which is moving more towards a living wage for staff.

"The vast majority of universities also pay allowances for evening and weekend working, which isn't applicable to the majority of the lowest paid members at Birmingham.

"The university also needs to recognise that whether someone is on a band 100, a wage of £13,294, or the salary of the vice chancellor (£419,000), they all have to pay for the same loaf of bread, and bottle of milk; pay their rent, mortgage and ever increasing utility bills," she added.

"The costs of basic food and childcare are increasing rapidly, and wages are not keeping up. If support workers' incomes are reduced, this could have a huge impact upon them. Potentially it could make it unaffordable for parents to work."

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