University Staff Strike Over 1% Pay Increase

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The 1pm rally on the Red Brick area.
The 1pm rally on the Red Brick area.

Staff at the University of Southampton have gone on strike today, causing significant disruption.

Staff are manning picketing lines at several sites including at Highfield and Avenue campuses. Picketing at the Highfield campus is focused on University Road outside the Student Services Centre, the Jubilee Sports Hall and near to the Students’ Union, while Humanities staff have manned access to the Avenue Campus from Highfield Road. The strike is a joint effort between the University and College’s Union (UCU), Unite and Unison and is supported by SUSU following a close vote held at the Union Council meeting last Monday.

Staff strikes outside the Students' Union
Staff strikes outside the Students’ Union

It has resulted in lectures and seminars being cancelled and several services remaining closed for the day. These include the libraries at the Avenue Campus and the Winchester School of Art with the languages library at Avenue opening for fewer hours than normal. In addition the Piazza restaurant, the Lattes café in the Library and the Life Sciences building, the interchange kiosk and the Food on the Go service will all not operate today.

Advice from the University is to attend your lectures unless you have received notice in advance that your lecture is cancelled.

Staff at the Avenue Campus

According to the Unions, they have been left with no other option but to strike as they have seen a 13% cut in their pay over the past four years. Equally they argue that the offer of a 1% increase is not enough. They also point out that universities have amassed huge surpluses of around £1.1 billion during this time and the pay of those at the top has not seen the reductions their pay has experienced.

This strike is not isolated to Southampton and nearly 150 other institutions are also experiencing staff strikes today. The national strike is also supported by the National Union of Students. The getting a lot of attention fro passers by, mostly due to the noise of the protestors, with shouting, vuvuzelas and car horns being audible around campus. It is also attracting journalistic attention from further afield with a camera crew for BBC South present during the rally.

A £57 note handed out by strikers at the Avenue Campus.
A £57 note handed out by strikers at the Avenue Campus.

The strikers however are asking that students understand their reasons for striking, with staff at Avenue handing out leaflets urging students to claim back the £57 of their tuition fees lost through the action today.

The culmination of the action is a rally held on the red brick area outside of the Students’ Union at 1pm.

The Wessex Scene will keep you updated of events as they occur throughout the day.

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History student and passionate writer about everything connected to Southampton and its rich tapestry of stories and history. Due to an unfortunate case of graduation, this writer is no longer active.

Discussion7 Comments

  1. avatar

    How do we claim back the £57?

    Steven Osborn
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    It was a flyer given out by the staff manning the pickets at Avenue campus.

    Sam
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    Given that those striking are having their pay withheld (on the basis that the University is entitled to recoup the financial impact of the strike) you should be well within your right to write to the University and request a refund for any missed contact time (on a pro-rata basis), so not definitely £57, but something.

    Freddy
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    Perhaps a short article on the best way of claiming compensation would be good?

  2. avatar

    Thought there was meant to be ‘minimal disruption the students and studies.’ How is using horns and shouting outside the library all day ‘minimal disruption’?

  3. avatar

    interesting thought: the University doesnt make above normal surpluses, which is for business security, and their staff cost % (for 5000 staff) is relatively in line with other Universities (if not higher – granted this is seen as a sector-wide problem as well).

    Assuming there is no current budget to increase wages, then, do they propose x% get sacked to fund x% wage increases? the VC getting 250,000 and cutting that isnt the solution, as a 100,000 wage drop still would only give every staff member in the University £20 a year…

    Not written as an argument against, but querying.

    Concerned student
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    No, the idea is that a Vice-Chancellor who earns nearly £300,000 ought to be able to secure enough money for the University to pay staff a fair wage. The amount of money a University receives is not fixed for all time, and Vice-Chancellors ought to be doing more to increase it. Sure it’s difficult, but again, that’s why they get paid £300,000 pa.

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