Postal delays and lessons hit as West Midlands mail workers, lecturers and teachers on strike

Thousands of Royal Mail workers, university lecturers and sixth-form staff across the region hit the picket lines over pay and conditions.

Staff from the University of Wolverhampton's School of Art took part in the UCU's rally in London
Staff from the University of Wolverhampton's School of Art took part in the UCU's rally in London

Wednesday's strike action – one of the biggest walkouts in a year dominated by industrial unrest – led to postal delays and cancelled lessons.

In the West Midlands, University and College Union (UCU) members were on strike at the University of Wolverhampton, Staffordshire University, Aston University and University of Birmingham.

The strikes were also backed by the National Education Union (NEU) and the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which is also planning seven more strikes in December, including on Christmas Eve.

The UCU followed up a 48-hour strike last week with a 24-hour stoppage among university staff on Wednesday. A rally in London saw staff from the University of Wolverhampton's School of Art in attendance.

At sites in Birmingham, staff were on the picket lines from 8am, demanding an improved pay offer, fairer pensions and an end to the reliance on casual workers.

In the afternoon a regional rally took place in the city centre featuring staff from across the Black Country and Staffordshire.

Strikers in Wolverhampton were backed by the university's students' union, which said in a statement: "The Students’ Union stands in support of the University and College Union (UCU) staff taking strike action this month."

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “University staff are prepared to do whatever it takes to win decent pay, secure employment and fair pensions, and vice chancellors need to understand that they cannot simply ride this out. Students and staff are united like never before.

"It is clear those who run our universities are becoming increasingly isolated.

"Our union is ready to deliver more industrial action next year, but avoiding that is entirely the responsibility of employers who have this week to make an improved offer. The ball is in their court."

NEU members from 77 sixth form colleges in England went on strike after the union said they have suffered a real-terms pay cut of an estimated 20 per cent since 2010.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: "This is a government that talks about growth but deliberately underfunds a sector which is the absolute bedrock of growth particularly in terms of skills."

CWU general secretary Dave Ward said: “Royal Mail bosses are risking a Christmas meltdown because of their stubborn refusal to treat their employees with respect.”

A Royal Mail spokesman said: “The CWU is striking at our busiest time, holding Christmas to ransom for our customers, businesses and families across the country.

“We apologise to our customers and strongly urge them to post early for Christmas."

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