University of Leeds staff strike over ‘insulting’ pay offer

Five days of action begin over pay increase way behind inflation

Hundreds of staff at the University of Leeds, including cleaners, security workers​,​ administrators and librarians are striking this week over a long-running pay dispute, says UNISON ​today (Monday).

More than 500 employees will take part in five days of action from today (Monday) and ending on Friday (24 June). Strikes will take place across the university’s Woodhouse campus, the union says.

Employees are angry that despite rejecting ​the 1.5% pay offer made last August, managers ​ignored ​staff protests and imposed the increase, UNISON adds. Even with this increase, low-paid employees are ​still taking home less than £18,000 a year.

Years of under​-investment in higher education, coupled with wage freezes, have kept staff pay artificially low, says the union. Workers want an across-the-board £1,250 increase to help them cope with soaring prices and inflation.

Staff were barely making ends meet even before the shock of the cost-of-living crisis, UNISON says. Now with prices rocketing, they cannot afford to accept a pay offer that’s already been wiped out by inflation, the union adds.

UNISON head of education Mike Short said: “Striking is always the last option, but staff have been left with no other choice.

“For years, university workers have endured what amount to pay cuts. ​Yet, these are the people who made sure students’ learning was uninterrupted throughout the pandemic

“But enough’s enough​.​ ​University employees simply can’t afford to live on poverty wages or accept woeful, insulting pay offers.

“University managers must make a better offer to give a fair pay increase to all staff.”

Notes to editors:
– 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 the public, voluntary and private sectors.