The workers’ union, Unison, have called a ballot on strike action in response to what they describe as ‘outrageous’ proposed pay cuts to University of Southampton student support workers.
The proposed pay changes relate specifically to reductions to night-time allowances for Halls of Residence student support staff. Unison say that the 42 staff affected would lose up to a fifth of their take home pay, amounting to a cut of around £6,000 before tax for the average worker.
According to the BBC, Unison’s South-East regional head of education, Mike Wilson, said that:
‘For an employer that pays around £400,000 per year to its vice-chancellor, these imposed pay cuts on hard-working, low-paid staff are an insult.’
A university spokesperson issued a statement to Wessex Scene in response:
“Following a detailed consultation with staff, including extensive liaison with trade unions from which changes have been made to our original proposals, we are launching a new team dedicated to Student Life… These improvements mean it is necessary to reorganise the current staffing structure. In all cases, we are also looking to ensure consistency of pay and conditions for all staff working unsocial hours across the University. In this particular instance, we are working closely with 42 colleagues in Residences Support who are directly affected. Any changes to pay are related to shift allowance and not basic salary.
“All those currently employed in the service will be given opportunities to continue working in similar roles and staff experiencing a reduction in their shift allowance for out-of-hours work will receive a compensatory payment, to recognise the change.
“The University is confident the creation of this new team dedicated to Student Life will provide an excellent service for our current students and those joining us in the future.”
The ballot for strike action ends on 7 June.