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Hundreds join universities strike to demand pay rises + Audio
Buy this photo » Staff at Oxford Brookes University, including Math Noorman, front right, were on the picket lines in Oxford yesterday as staff at both city universities joined the national strike. Pictures: OX63119 Mark Hemsworth
UNIVERSITY lecturers and support staff have complained about their low salaries after hundreds walked out in a pay dispute.
There were picket lines across Oxford yesterday as members of the University and College Union, Unite and Unison from both Oxford University and Brookes took their fight against what they see as a 13 per cent pay cut to the streets.
About 1,000 lecturers from Oxford University were on strike, along with several hundred support and administrative workers, and a similar number are believed to have walked out at Brookes.
Union leaders have argued that a one per cent rise proposed by university bosses is a real-terms pay cut because it falls below the rate of inflation, currently around three per cent.
And one staff member who has been working for 45 years says he deserves to be paid more.
Chris Tipler, 63, a bookbinder for the Bodleian Library, based in Osney Mead, hit out at the offered one per cent rise.
Mr Tipler said: “Enough is enough. We need to do something about it. My salary is approximately £27,000 and I’ve been doing the job for 45 years now.
“I’m disappointed when I know that the university had a surplus of £33m last year.”
UCU Oxford President Terry Hoad, a former Fellow of St Peter’s College, was at a picket line outside Oxford University buildings in Wellington Square.
He said: “Yet again this year we haven’t managed to get the employers to make us a realistic offer.”
He said he was pleased with the support received from students. He said if no deal is reached, lecturers would consider working to their minimum contract requirements.
Dr Mohamed-Salah Omri, 50, a lecturer in Arabic literature in the university’s oriental studies department, said he earned £56,000 a year, but had not had more than a one per cent pay rise since he started his job.
Dr Omri, who lives in North Oxford, said: “According to the union and statistics authority, lecturers are actually losing from year-to-year, they are talking about a 13 per cent actual cut in pay.”
- Listen to staff on the picket line
Oxford University spokeswoman Clemency Pleming said: “The university respects the right of individuals to take part in lawful industrial action. Contingency plans were in place aimed at minimising any disruption or inconvenience such action may cause to students, staff, and visitors to the university.”
Oxford Brookes’ human resources director Bob Price said: “The strike follows the rejection by the unions of the final pay offer made by the universities’ national employers’ organisation. Negotiations are conducted at a national level and we are hoping for a speedy resolution.”
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