University staff distribute food to help students through strike

UNISON members working in higher education across the UK will be taking a second day of strike action on 3 December.

Striking is never easy and our members are being forced to take action that will have an impact on the students that they normally work hard to provide support services for.

However, as the employers have refused to increase the pay offer, members feel that they have no choice.

To help students get through the strike, UNISON members at the University of Liverpool – including cooks and catering assistants – have been distributing free instant noodles.

At the University of Liverpool, catering staff are faced with reductions in their pay as the employer plans to cut unsocial hours pay that will reduce their income by £1,000 a year. Staff enjoy providing a quality service to students and are reluctant to go on strike, but feel they have been given no choice but to act.

One catering assistant said: “I’ve got a mortgage and that’s bad enough, but it’s the cost of living too. Energy prices are going through the roof. I’m worried about how we will cope.”

A long-standing cook at the university said: “I’m the only breadwinner in the house. I’ll have to go to the food bank.”

UNISON members will be asking students to support their campaign. The university pays the vice-chancellor Howard Newby £328,000 a year and has reserves of over £9m.

Students are being asked to send letters to Mr Newby urging him to pay staff fairly.

UNISON national Secretary Jon Richards said: “UNISON members are having to take strike action due to the reluctance of HE employers to give staff a decent rise. Our members deliver services that give UK universities a world-class reputation.

“Staff had their pay held down when times were uncertain in the sector. However, student numbers are steady, universities have recorded record surpluses and employers are investing huge amounts in new buildings. Now is the time to share these surpluses with the staff who have built this success story.”

Higher education industrial action