“On strike – can’t pay the rent!”

On Monday 2 and Tuesday 3 October, cleaners, technicians, librarians and other members of higher education staff across England and Scotland took strike action.

The region was well represented, with UNISON members in five universities across the South East taking part in the dispute.

The move to strike action came after members voted to reject a pay offer for 2023/24 – worth between 5% and 8% but well below the rate of inflation at the time – in a consultation conducted by the union earlier this year.

Members, activists and organisers were also active on social media, building support for the dispute with displays of solidarity on the picket line – including the odd dog!

Solent University

Things started off strong at Solent, with a fantastic show of solidarity on the first day of industrial action.

It turned into a party on the second day, complete with regional organiser James keeping strikers and supporters entertained musical numbers, and a mass whistle to ‘Sweet Caroline’.

University of Chichester

The ever-popular sight of a pup on the picket line got an update at the University of Chichester, with this solidarity Shiba making the message clear: fair pay now.

University of Winchester

University of Winchester journalism student Osian Davis asked UNISON members and organisers what the strike was all about. Rory, a workplace rep, summed it up: “It’s been over a decade since we had a pay rise in line with inflation.”

University of Brighton

University of Brighton Unison branch secretary Ivan addressed a crowd gathered at a post-picket rally in Victoria Gardens…

… only a short hop across Grand Parade for some of our University of Brighton strikers, who spent the morning cheering on the support from passing traffic.

University of Sussex

Regional organiser Caroline Fife captured the shocking stories of some of our University of Sussex strikers, including second jobs to pay the rent and decades of below inflation pay rises.

It’s a similar story across the region and throughout the country, and the reason our members are rising together for better pay.