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Bristol students miss lectures as university staff stage strike action

Bristol strike

By IanOnions

Thousands of students at universities in the Bristol region were missing lectures because of strike action by teaching and support staff.

Picket lines were mounted at Bristol and Bath universities and the University of the West of England as part of the national stoppage.

Several other universities in the south west were hit but further education colleges were not affected.

This was the third day of action by members of three unions who represent academics, support staff such as lab technicians, admin staff, security workers and cleaners.

The unions involved are the academics’ union, the UCU (Universities and Colleges Union), UNITE and UNISON. The students’ union, NUS, is backing the action. Staff have been offered a one per cent pay increase which they say represents a drop in real terms for a fifth year in a row.

Mike Hines from UNISON said: “Student fees have risen under the Coalition Government to £9,000 a year. This huge hit on students and their families is not however reflected in the wages of the staff who keep universities running, and who support and teach those students every day. Across the South West more than 1,500 staff are not even paid the Living Wage (£7.65 an hour).

“The contrast between the average rise received by Vice Chancellors, at 8.1%, and the 1% rise to be imposed on staff, many of whom are paid barely enough to survive as it is, says it all.

“Myself and colleagues in my own university as well as those across the South West are not taking action lightly. However, after five years of pay cuts in real terms we feel we have been left with no choice. The University Employers need to come back to the table, talk to us properly, and make an offer that reflects the huge commitment of their staff day in and day out.”

The Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) says the vast majority of staff understand the reality of the economic situation and do not want to take action which would have their institutions or students.

It added that many staff receive incremental pay increases as well as merit awards which gives them much more than one per cent.

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