Wolverhampton University staff stage first day of strike action amid downpours
Wolverhampton University workers braved downpours to join the picket line at University of Wolverhampton's City Campus as they began the first day of strike action.
Union reps from the UCU (University and College Union) and lecturers of the University of Wolverhampton gathered on Thursday.
Staff have walked out for three days over pay, work conditions and insecure "drop at a moment's notice" contracts.
Dr Aidan Byrne, English literature lead and chairman of the UCU city branch, said: "We are just trying to stay positive at this time, we wanted to show that we are doing this on behalf of our community.
"This is about more than pay, a lot of our younger colleagues are on insecure, hourly paid contracts. You simply cannot level up Wolverhampton without regarding the pay rise and contracts of the lecturers and staff."
University members stood silently under umbrellas and marquees as a lecturer talked about standing together against "threatening" actions, saying that "we must stand in unity".
Dr Byrne continued: "The problem with the pay is that the offer of nine per cent is much lower than the rise in inflation. We haven't had an inflation-related pay increase since 2009.
"We have been getting poorer every year, and last year's pay deal they actually secretly decided not to pay at all."
In an apparent "threatening email", sent by the University of Wolverhampton HR department, it was quoted that "100 per cent of the pay" for strike days would be deducted from the lecturers.
But lecturers are asking for the money to instead go to the Dennis Turner Fund, a hardship fund created to support students through the cost of living crisis.
Dr Catherine Lamond, chair of the UCU at the university, talked about the decision to give the money to the students.
She said: "The students have no control of anything going on, I have heard so many stories of students fainting over not having enough food, students not being able to have the heating on, about gas and transport prices.
"We are being really optimistic, We hope that the money taken from us for this strike action will go to the Dennis Turner Fund, which in turn will help the students with the cost of living crisis."
The action in Wolverhampton was mirrored up and down the country as around 70,000 members of the University and College Union (UCU) were set to strike today, tomorrow and again on November 30, in a dispute over pay, pensions and contracts.
It will be the biggest strike of its kind, affecting an estimated 2.5 million students, with the union warning of escalated action in the new year if the row is not resolved.