Bob Geldof has lent his support to UNISON’s Higher Education members, telling workers on a crowded picket line in Leeds that “a fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.”
Universities and colleges have been operating with skeleton staff with UNISON members attending rallies up and down the country in a walkout over pay.
Staff working in a wide variety of jobs including course administrators, caterers, cleaners, security staff have caused widespread disruption in 21 towns and cities. Walkouts have forced the closure of libraries, health centres and food courts, with several universities cancelling classes before the industrial action started.
250 employees attended a rally in Bristol, while 80 union pickets covered building entrances at universities throughout the north-west. UNISON members occupying an empty car park at Staffordshire University received widespread support from students.
The union has labelled the offer of a 1% pay rise “miserly” as cash-rich universities continue to pay more than 4,000 staff less than the Living Wage, which stands at £7.45 and £8.55 in London.
UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis was one of hundreds of people occupying more than 70 picket lines across London, with UNISON members standing alongside those from UCU and Unite. He said:
“Our members are the backbone of universities. They work hard to support students on campus, they run the libraries, take care of course administration, feed the students, keep them safe, clean their accommodation and university premises, and yet their contribution to university life is so often overlooked.
“The vast majority are low paid. A 1% increase for the lowest paid works out at £11.23 a month – not even enough to cover the latest gas bill rises. By contrast the vast majority of vice chancellors are sitting pretty on £242,000 a year – the equivalent of 18 years’ wages for those at the bottom.”