Birmingham University strikes cancelled as low-paid workers secure pay increase

Low-paid staff will receive an extra £817 a year

Cleaners, caterers and security guards at Birmingham University are celebrating after securing a pay rise following a series of campus strikes, UNISON announced today (Friday).

Three days of strikes planned for Thursday 28 and Friday 29 of November and 2 December have been cancelled. The decision follows staff voting to accept a pay offer of more than 4% for the lowest paid workers and 3% for the highest.

Low-paid staff will receive an extra £817 a year with their hourly rate rising by 44p to £9.44. The increase will be backdated to 1 August 2019.

The university pay offer exceeds the below inflation 2% increase managers imposed on support staff last year, which originally sparked the dispute, says UNISON.

Speaking about the settlement UNISON head of education Jon Richards said: “At last university managers have recognised that staff deserve a decent pay rise and that 2% was not a fair offer.

“It’s a shame workers had to strike to get their voices heard. We hope we can work with the university to improve the pay and prospects of all staff over the longer term.

“The award should also send a powerful message to the University and Colleges Employers Association that they need to make a decent pay offer to staff across the country.”

Notes to editors:
– In 2018 most staff received a 2% increase while the retail price index (RPI) was at 2.8% meaning staff faced a real-terms pay cut. The strike action continued into the period normally allotted for the next year’s pay negotiations. Since 2009 the salaries of higher education staff across the country have declined by up to 20% compared with the RPI measure of inflation.
– The university’s latest offer relates to the 2019/20 academic year and is graded from 4.85% for the lowest paid support staff up to 3% for some higher bands. The offer does not apply to academic or higher banded administrative staff whose pay is negotiated nationally.
– The university has refused to become an accredited living wage employer, has not committed to the elimination of the gender pay gap and outsourced close to 40 staff to a wholly owned subsidiary company.
– University vice chancellor David Eastwood receives a £440,000 salary and 109 senior managers at the university are paid more than £100,000 a year.
– Following the end of the dispute, UNISON and the university will be entering negotiations to revise the institution’s pay spine
– Support staff at the university have been trying to improve their pay and working conditions since 2012, when they held their first day of strike action in 30 years.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.

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