University staff strike on graduation day

Hundreds of staff from the University of Birmingham are taking strike action in a dispute over the living wage.

Caterers, cleaners, security guards and other support staff walked out yesterday demanding “better pay, equality, and improved working conditions”, Unison said.

It is the first of two consecutive days of action by union members, falling on the university’s graduation days.

The university said it was “business as usual” on campus and that it has matched the voluntary living wage.

Unison said it expected about 300 people to take part in the the industrial action and follows a previous strike at an open day last month.

Last week, Unison members had rejected an offer by the university to pay a lump sum of 1% to all support staff.

Unison is lobbying for a pay increase for all support staff; for the university to become a Living Wage Accredited employer; eliminate the gender pay gap by 2020 and negotiate with all unions on a joint report on working conditions at the university.

The university said this was the tenth year support staff pay awards have been in line with, or above those negotiated nationally and the fourth consecutive year it has matched the voluntary living wage.