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Statement on the Unison strike action

Industrial action, also known as strike action, will be carried out by members of Unison at Leeds Beckett next week. Unison is the trade Union that represents some of the staff who work in service areas in the University, such as the library, security, and administration.

Industrial action, also known as strike action, will be carried out by members of Unison at Leeds Beckett this week. Unison is the trade Union that represents some of the staff who work in service areas in the university, such as the library, security, and administration.  The strike action is in response to the negotiations on pay and conditions, which is a collective bargaining process between the Joint Unions that collectively represent university staff nationally, and the university and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) who determine national pay offers for their members. The collective bargaining process ended without resolution.

As a students’ union that represents over 25,000 students at Leeds Beckett, our primary charitable responsibility is to students’ education and this has to be our focus. We would like to state our solidarity with Unison members taking industrial action, and we support their right to strike in their fight for fair pay and conditions. We believe that the working conditions of university staff reflect directly on the experience of our students, and to that end we are fully behind the principles leading to the planned action. We would however call on Unison members to consider how any negative impact on students, and particularly our most vulnerable students, during industrial action could be mitigated against.

The SU will be talking to both university management and trade union leaders to encourage local talks to take place aimed at reaching a mutually agreed resolution to the dispute. A long term solution to issues across higher education, for staff and students, must come from the Government and we will be working with NUS and others on this issue in the year ahead. Students deserve their education, staff deserve decent pay and universities need decent funding to be able to deliver this.

Below we have outlined some answers to common questions around industrial action and what it might mean for students. If you have any other questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to let us know using the link here.

What is industrial action?

Industrial action is a general term for actions taken by members of a trade union in protest against their employer. The most common form of action is to go on strike, which is often the last resort after negotiations have failed. A strike is when workers refuse to continue working because of an argument with an employer about working conditions, pay levels, or job losses. Staff who are on strike will not get paid for the duration of the industrial action.

Why are some staff going on strike?

The dispute is primarily about the Higher Education pay offer that resulted from the joint negotiations. Unison are seeking an increase in pay equivalent to the Retail Price Index (RPI) + 2%, which would equate to around 12% currently. The national negotiations ended with the Joint Unions rejecting a pay offer that included a 9% uplift for staff on the lowest pay points, and an increase of 3% for staff higher up the scale.

What is a picket line?

A picket line is a form of protest, which involves workers establishing a boundary, often at the entrance to their place of work, which other people are asked not to cross. You may be asked by workers on strike not to cross picket lines established in front of University buildings. You should not be physically prevented from entering a building with a picket line, and there is official guidance on picket line behaviour. You may want to take the opportunity to speak to staff on picket lines to find out more information about the strike.

How might the strikes affect students?

Strikes aim to influence decision-makers in the University – they are not aimed at making a negative impact on students. However, because most Unison members’ jobs involve providing support and resource to services that assist students, there may be some impact that will be felt by students. This could mean things like less staff being available in the libraries, or cancellation of appointments with University advice and support services. Your Students’ Union has asked Unison to mitigate against negative impacts on students wherever possible during the strikes.

Will our Students’ Union still be open?

Yes – we are a separate entity to the University and our staff are not on strike. All of our services, spaces, activities and opportunities will be running as normal through the strike action and will be available for you to access regardless of your feelings about the strike. 

Take care,

LBSU Officer Team x