Noisy, colourful and good-humoured pickets marked the second round of industrial action as UNISON members at Birmingham University continued their pay dispute this week.
The university is one of a handful who are not part of national bargaining for support staff.
The UNISON members are demanding improved pay after management imposed its 2018-19 pay offer, and calling on the university to become an accredited living wage employer.
“We already know that members have turned to food banks to feed their families,” says the Birmingham University UNISON branch. “Many low-paid staff only work 15 hours per week and often hold several jobs to make ends meet.”
The university offered staff a non-consolidated one-off payment of 1% of their salary, or £100 if that was more, for the 2018-19 pay round.
This “was rejected out of hand by our branch – it simply wasn’t a decent offer,” said union regional organiser Rick Tudor.
The employers then came back with a “slightly improved” offer, just hours before this week’s second round of action on Tuesday. This would add an extra 1% to 1.2%, which would be consolidated, to the national employers’ offer for 2019-20 (currently 1.8%).
The union met management on Tuesday afternoon, but Mr Tudor reported: “We still don’t have a decent offer in relation to the current pay round and still no offer on becoming foundation living wage accredited.
“We will be continuing our campaign over the summer to keep the pressure up on the university and we’re planning further action for September.”
National pay talks update
In national negotiations, UNISON and other unions have rejected a final pay offer for 2019-20 and will be balloting members at universities involved for industrial action. The ballot will start in September. Meanwhile, talks are taking place.