Thumbnail image from UNISON University of Birmingham Strike Ballot campaign video - It's High Noon for David Eastwood

It’s High Noon for David Eastwood: UNISON University of Birmingham Strike Ballot launches with a bang

Yesterday (17 May), our friends at UNISON University of Birmingham branch released an incredible video, It’s High Noon for David Eastwood, to explain why they’re balloting their members to improve pay and working conditions for Support Staff.

The video takes the form of an old ‘Spaghetti Western’ film, with the University campus transformed into a Wild West settlement, where the locals (read Support Staff), are subject to the whims of the villainous cowboy, who bears an uncanny resemblance to a certain Vice-Chancellor…

What are UNISON UoB’s demands?

UNISON UoB are balloting members between 15 May and 3 June. UNISON are demanding:

  • Better pay. Like UCU members, UNISON members received only a below-inflation pay ‘rise’ of 2% this year and have faced the same stagnating wages as us. UNISON are demanding an above Retail Price Index (RPI) pay rise to start to make up for falling living standards and to tackle in-work poverty.
  • Ending the Gender Pay Gap. At Birmingham UCU, we often focus on tackling the lack of women in senior positions at the University. Equally important, however, is the need to ensure that there is fair representations at all levels. At present, women are over-represented in lower paid Support Staff roles, including at the recently-outsourced Egbaston Park Hotel (where hotel management, supported by University management, pay newly recruited staff the Minimum Wage.
  • Living Wage accreditation. Senior management have consistently refused calls for the University to become a Real Living Wage employer. The Real Living Wage is independently-calculated based on what people need to get by. By refusing to become an accredited Living Wage employer, every year UNISON UoB, with support from ourselves at Birmingham UCU and local politicians, have to expend serious engergy to ensure the University, as a minimum, pays staff at least enough to get by on. It also means the University can get away with paying staff at the new Edbaston Park Hotel less than the Living Wage, and use suppliers such as painting and decorating firms that pay less than the Real Living Wage. Earlier this year, local MP and West Midlands Mayoral candidate Liam Byrne recently turned down an honorary position at the University over its refusal to become an accredited Living Wage employer.
  • Restructuring of pay spines. UNISON UoB want to see changes to the way Support Staff pay spines are structures to give more opportunities for career progression.
  • Meaningul negotiations with all campus unions over the Joint Unions Report demands. In November 2018, UNISON UoB, along with ourselves at Birmingham UCU as well as UNITE and GMB, presented the University with a well-developed set of demands to address pay, equality and other working conditions at Birmingham. To date, management have been incredibly slow at responding to the demands contained in the report.

Ways to support UNISON UoB’s campaign

UNISON UoB have published a detailed supporters’ guide on their website.

Here are some things to get you started:

  • Download, print and share offline and online the excellent campaign materials from UNISON’s website.
  • Share UNISON’s excellent High Noon for David Eastwood with colleages, friends and family.
  • Talk to Support Staff colleagues in your team and around campus. Not everyone will be aware of the campaign. Let them know you support better pay and conditions for Support Staff. If they’re not already a member, encourage them to join UNISON and get involved.
  • If you’re a social media user, connect with UNISON UoB on Facebook @UNISONBhamUni and on Twitter @BhamUniUnison. Share updates and let people know you support the campaign.
  • If you can spare the time, email unisonbham@contacts.bham.ac.uk to help out with flyering on and around campus.

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