The University and College Union has announced its intention to go on strike on three occasions over the next month.

Scenes from the December strike.

Scenes from the December strike.

It follows on from two days on industrial action on 31 October and 3 December by the UCU, Unite and Unison which closed several campus services. They are still in dispute with the University over a 1% pay rise at a time when senior staff, such as the Vice Chancellor, are receiving pay rises.

The announced dates are Thursday 23 January, Tuesday 28 January and Monday 10 February. They will however not be for the duration of the day and will only occur for two hours in those days, 11am-1pm, 2-4pm and 9-11am respectively. There has already been controversy amongst the student population at the news that a strike will occur during exam season.

This marks a change in strategy for the Unions who are now aiming to strike during the busiest periods of the day to cause maximum disruption to the University and its students while minimising the financial cost to staff of strike action.

During the action, the University believes that all libraries and catering outlets will remain open and that the Early Years Centre and the Uni-link bus service will run unaffected. However, UCU are telling their members to withhold telling the University if they are striking in a bid to cause maximum disruption. Students are advised to attend lectures during this time as normal unless informed that their lecture will not occur through emails and noticeboards or your Student Office on the day.

In a blog post the University said:

Colleagues and students may be aware that UCU has indicated an intention for their members to take industrial action that will affect university campuses across the UK… The University will endeavour to maintain the excellent education experience it provides to its students. The University’s Business Continuity And Planning Group is assessing the situation and staff will be kept informed of arrangements.

Meanwhile Dr Eric Silverman, President of Southampton UCU said:

The current situation at the University of Southampton beggars belief.  The vice-chancellors is one of the best-paid university bosses in the UK, yet he says he won’t support a pay rise for staff.  Our salary bill has been bloated by the hiring of yet more high-level managers, while staff who actually do the lecturing, research, and administrative work that supports and enables students are expected to take another pay cut. We have had five years of real-terms pay cuts, we have around 200 lecturers on zero-hours contracts and we have 140 staff at the university earning below the living wage, some of whom are forced to depend on food banks to get by. We regret having to take more disruptive action, but we are left with no other option.

SUSU has also made a comment on the strike and will not be supporting the first strike. The decision was taken by the Sabbatical team given the absence of a Union Council meeting. Decisions on the other strikes will be taken by Education Committee and Union Council. In a statement, SUSU President David Gilani said:

SUSU believes that this industrial action will severely affect the student experience and therefore we cannot support it. To help lessen the detriment to students, SUSU will be liaising with trade unions to give feedback on how previous strikes have affected our members. We also will continually work with the University of Southampton to help develop better conditions for our postgraduate students who are also staff.

The Wessex Scene will keep you updated as events progress.

Update on 23 January strike:

The first of the three planned strikes between 11am and 1pm on the 23 January went ahead. It was a noticeably smaller gathering with around 30 staff gathering first on the red brick area before moving to outside the Student Services Centre, and a handful of staff congregating outside the Staff Social Centre. In contrast with previous strikes, horns did not make an appearance and shouting was also kept to a minimum, perhaps to improve the image of the strikers in the eyes of the students. Despite the smaller gatherings, the strikes did feature as news in local newspaper the Daily Echo and in the news bulletins of BBC South Today.

10 Comments »

Leave your response!

  • Postgrad
    avatar

    I wish David Gilani would show some backbone and admit he doesn’t give a toss about staff wages. It’s literally impossible for teachers to strike without affecting students. So what he means is he thinks they should just shut up and accept the pay cut. At least be honest about it David.

    And whilst you’re at it, could you also tell us why you support Don Nutbeam’s 17k pay rise, awarded whilst students and staff suffer? Because you sure as hell haven’t said anything critical about it so far.

    Also working postgraduate students are covered by the same wage negotiations as other staff, so there’s literally *nothing* SUSU can do on that front. It’s embarrassing the the President of SUSU has so little understanding of something that is affecting staff and students so much. And yet utterly unsurprising.

    Reply

    David Gilani
    avatar

    I’m afraid I can’t admit that because it’s not true. My position as SUSU President gives me opportunities to liaise with various executives at the University… throughout this year I have brought up the issue of the living wage with the University with the aim of hoping that they will be able to pay living wage to all of their staff. I will keep doing so until the University of Southampton is a living wage employer

    I also believe very strongly in the need for a review of the University’s usage of zero-hour contracts. In some cases these contracts are helpful – as our student support staff have said very clearly – however for a lot of Postgrads they are detrimental. I will keep bringing this up until the University of Southampton reviews the usage of zero-hours with its staff.

    These are both issues that can be solved locally (rather than waiting for a national solution)… and I will keep fighting on these issues because I can – whereas I have no control over the national pay dispute.

    Reply

    Postgrad
    avatar

    Right, the living wage is a obviously a good thing, but it only affects the lowest paid staff. So as I said, it seems you don’t give a toss about the pay of staff in general. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    Whilst you’re here, are you willing to criticise Don Nutbeam for accepting a £17k salary rise whilst staff and students are suffering?

    Reply

    David Gilani
    avatar

    well… it seems that if you’re gonna care about the pay of staff… it’s best to start with the ones that are paid the absolute lowest and try to fix that, no?

    I don’t waste time looking to criticise Don, when that time could be better spent explaining why his University should adopt living wage and better zero-hour contract regulations… I’m not looking to win political points… I’m looking to get the University to be better for our students.

    Reply

    Postgrad
    avatar

    It would take about 5 seconds to type “I think it’s bad that Don Nutbeam accepted a £17k wage rise whilst telling staff to accept a real-terms cut”. A brief look at your twitter feed shows that you have that time to waste. So what you actually mean is you’re too scared to say anything, or you think it’s fine. Either way, it’s embarrassing.

    And I’m fine with your “caring” about the staff who are paid least first of all, so long as you *also* care about those above them. But you don’t, so again, why not have some integrity and say what you think – which is that the rest of the staff on campus can go whistle?

    Reply

    Postgrad
    avatar

    David “I don’t waste time” Gilani recent tweets:

    David Gilani ‏@DavidGilani Jan 19
    Some like it hot up your bum #addupyourbumtoafilmtitle

    David Gilani ‏@DavidGilani Jan 19
    @JoannaSheldon @tlsearle @MrDJJackson @brookstim chicken run up your bum #addupyourbumtoafilmtitle

    David Gilani ‏@DavidGilani Jan 19
    @brookstim @MrDJJackson @JoannaSheldon Finding Nemo Up Your Bum #addupyourbumtoafilmtitle

    David Gilani ‏@DavidGilani Jan 19
    Rush up your bum #addupyourbumtoafilmtitle #childishness

    Reply

    Undergrad
    avatar

    So it’s not enough for your ideal method of striking to be actively disruptive to innocent bystanders, but you also insist that the president of the student union then spends 100% of his time fighting for your cause? Because you yourself haven’t slept or taken a moment away from supporting the strike.

    You really haven’t thought about how to back your corner, have you? Instead of just striking like most other professions would, by removing your labour, you’ve actively gone out to disrupt students to back your cause. In the process, you’ve lost student support and now you’re losing even more by commenting in the most sanctimonious position possible.

    Logic = fail.

    Postgrad
    avatar

    No, it would just be good if the President of SUSU spent *any* time standing up for the staff that keep the uni running. Instead he’s too busy cosying up to the VC who is causing the problems, raising his own wages and lobbying to have your fees put up to £16,000. That’s the fail here.

    And it’s not a popularity contest or about getting people on-side. It’s about showing the VC and management that they can’t take staff for granted. That means actually having an effect on campus. If we don’t do that, our pay goes down. It’s that simple.

    Other Postgrad
    avatar

    What do you think personally insulting Gilani is gonna achieve… it just shows how childish you are! You do not speak on behalf of postgrads.

    I’m glad that SUSU is focusing on living wage and zero-hours contracts. I would love to see Southampton become a living wage University. Going around with a “fix everyone NOW” attitude isn’t helpful.

  • George Disney
    avatar

    Just for info the noise is mainly made by Unite. They represent cleaners, catering staff and the lowest paid. They also have the most precarious working conditions. I think we can forgive those folk making sure everyone knows about the strike given their poverty pay, working conditions etc.

    Before, during and after every strike action I have invited students (via SUSU president David G) to come and speak to the workers on strike. Maybe this isn’t the best way to invite students in general, but we can only do our best. People are welcome at any point to come and chat. If you’d feel more comfortable I’m more than happy to introduce you to some of the workers – cleaners, catering staff, librarians, lecturers – that I know.

    The industrial action is regrettable. Negotiations between the unions and the employers have been going on at a national level since May 2013. At the moment the employers (an association of VCs who have in general just had huge pay rises and earn 24 times the amount of full time cleaner) are refusing to offer better than a 1% rise. A real terms cut.

    Anyways, all three unions are back on strike on 6th Feb for the full day. Please come and say hello. I’ll be on university road with the Unite members for most of the morning.

    Reply