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.
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.
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.
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.