University of Leeds strike to hit open day

22 June 2016 | last updated: 24 June 2016

UCU members at the University of Leeds will be on strike tomorrow (Thursday 23 June) as part of a wave of nationwide strikes in a row over pay and conditions.

Staff at the university have timed their action to coincide with an open day for prospective students and their parents. Union members will lobby students and parents as they arrive to explain more about their campaign for fair pay and better conditions.

Striking staff will be on picket lines outside the main entrance to the university by the side of the Parkinson Building from 7am.

The dispute has arisen following a pay offer of just 1.1% from the universities' employers, the Universities and Colleges Employers Association. UCU said universities can afford to pay more and the offer did little to address the real-terms pay cut of 14.5% that members have suffered since 2009.The squeeze on staff salaries comes despite vice-chancellors enjoying a 6.1% pay hike.

UCU local representative, Mark Taylor-Batty, said: 'Our strike action is a result of the employers' failure to deal with the declining real-terms pay of university staff, or tackle the large numbers of people on temporary contracts and the persistent gender pay gap.

'Nobody wants to be out on strike, but we have been left with no alternative. We hope universities will finally come back to us with a proper pay offer.'

The union has also called for universities to commit to closing the gender pay gap and reducing the proportion of staff on casual and zero-hours contracts. On average, female academics are paid £6,103 (12.6%) less a year than their male counterparts. At Leeds the gender pay gap is above the national average with female academics earning 16% less than their male colleagues; £7,995 a year. At Leeds 52% of academic staff are on insecure contracts, compared to a national average of 54%

Since 2010 the amount spent on staff by universities as a percentage of total income has dropped by 3%. However, the total of cash reserves has rocketed by 72% to stand at over £21bn. The nationwide strikes over pay began with two national strike days in May and now UCU members at separate institutions are striking to disrupt local events such as open days and graduation ceremonies. More details are available here and via the Twitter hashtag #FairpayinHE

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