Leeds University strike: Staff demand 'fair pay' as they stage protest outside Parkinson Building
Staff at the University of Leeds staged a walk out today as part of their fight for a pay rise as the cost of living soars.
Members of the University and College Union (UCU) and UNISON held a protest outside the University's Parkinson Building, holding placards demanding 'fair pay'.
It is the eighth day of strike action by UCU members this year, following previous strikes over pension disputes.
This week's strike, which will continue until Wednesday, is in protest against falling wages across the country which the unions say are causing huge financial and mental health burdens on university staff.
The branch president of Leeds University UCU, Dr Chloe Wallace, said: "This is our eight day of strike action this year, but it was a special day because UNISON came out and joined us.
"It was great to see the turnout, it was very much what we were hoping for."
UNISON Branch Secretary at Leeds University, Angela Blackburn, said dedicated staff are having to choose between heating and eating because their pay has fallen so far behind the cost of living.
And Dr Wallace said more than half of the UCU's members have reported signs of depression, adding that the pressure of excessive workloads is "getting worse."
"We also want to emphasise the importance of the equality pay gaps," Dr Wallace said.
"We’ve still got massive race, gender and disability pay gaps and again, they aren’t getting any better.
"I would like our employers to get back to negotiation.
"We don’t want this to drag on and on, we want to have sensible talks where they are prepared to listen and compromise. But at the moment that isn’t happening.”
The University of Leeds said it is committed to improve some of the issues at the heart of the dispute, pointing to its Fairer Future For All pledge to reduce short-term contracts and boost job security, support a healthy and fulfilled staff community and create opportunity and celebrate achievements.
The spokesperson added: "Whilst the University cannot support the industrial action, which is a result of a national and not a local dispute, we know that our colleagues are uniformly committed to our students’ education and experience, and do not enter into any such action lightly.
“Commitments to improve some of the issues at the heart of this dispute are already firmly part of our strategic plans, as demonstrated by our Fairer Future For All pledges. We are continuing to engage with our staff on these pledges.
"Our priorities throughout this time are to protect the interests of students, including minimising any disruption to them; retain the cohesion of our community; and protect the standard of Leeds degrees.
“More information for students about industrial action and what the University is doing to address the issues raised by the unions can be found on our student FAQs page.”
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