Sussex University strike over pay ramps up next week, says UNISON

Industrial action will take place during ‘clearing week’, which will disrupt the process of filling courses with vacant spots, the union says.

Support staff at the University of Sussex will take two days of strike action next week over their inadequate pay rise, says UNISON today (Friday).

The workers – who include IT technicians, administrators, library staff and others supporting student learning – will walk out for 48 hours from Wednesday 16 August. This is an escalation of UNISON’s dispute, which now involves 22 universities across the country.

Other institutions with mandates for industrial action include the University of Brighton, University of Winchester, Solent University, University of Chichester, and University of Leeds. Staff at the latter will be also taking strike action during ‘clearing week’ for seven days starting on Saturday 12 August.

UNISON says the pay rise staff have been given falls short of what’s needed to cope with cost-of-living pressures.

The 2023/24 pay offer is worth 5-8% depending on salary, with a higher percentage rise for lower paid workers.

UNISON South East head of higher education Neil Duncan-Jordan said: “Senior managers in higher education have been enjoying executive-style pay and bonuses over the past few years.

“But support staff in vital roles, who make sure students have a decent university experience, have endured years of real-terms pay cuts.

“Many universities have already secured local agreements to resolve the dispute, including making changes to working hours, offering extra holiday days, or making one-off payments. Sussex could do the same, but has so far chosen not to.

“Universities must rethink their inadequate offer again and improve wages.”

UNISON head of higher education Ruth Smith said: “These workers play a crucial role helping students through university, but many can’t support themselves as prices of food and fuel continue to rise.

“Employees are having to leave for better-paid jobs elsewhere, leaving students facing a worsening university experience.

“Sussex must now come back with a better pay offer or staff will be forced to continue with industrial action.”

Notes to editors: 

– Details of how the 2023/24 pay award will affect university support staff are available here.

– Picket lines will be in operation from 8am at the main entrance to the University of Sussex (by Falmer Station) on 16 and 17 August. UNISON representatives will be available for photos and comments.

– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.