Support staff at the University of Birmingham – organised in Unison – are currently out on strike for five days, in a dispute over pay and conditions.
The first two days of walkouts have seen over 40 Unison members taking to the picket lines – the largest mobilisation of the union at Birmingham University since the pandemic.
The morale amongst the strikers is high, despite university bosses playing dirty tricks.
Unison reps were close to agreeing a deal with the university. But at the last possible minute, management went over the heads of the union, and presented a deal that included poorer pay on weekends and night shifts, as well as further attacks on terms and conditions.
The university then offered a take-it-or-leave-it one-off payment, which would immediately be taken away from any worker who refused to sign up to this rotten deal. Unison rightly called this out as a snivelling bribe.
Management is attempting to play the workers off one another, and undermine the class unity amongst staff. But the workers are not taking this lying down.
Unison members spoke to Socialist Appeal, saying: “We want all staff to be paid equally and no one left behind.” They are sick of feeling “massively undervalued and overworked by the university”.
After more than a decade of marketisation in higher education, everyone is aware that university management is driven only by profit.
To strengthen the fight back and win, the struggle must spread. There must be a united front between support staff, lecturers, and students.
Scheduled action by UCU members has unfortunately been called off, due to a lack of militancy and strategy from the union’s leadership.
Nevertheless, rank-and-file UCU members and students should still mobilise on campus to show the maximum solidarity for striking support staff – on the picket lines and at the rallies. An injury to one is an injury to all.
Students and workers: Unite and fight! Kick capitalism out of education!