Strathclyde Telegraph

Edinburgh students occupy finance office in support of staff strike

Silja Slepnjov

Editor in Chief

Over 40 students at the University of Edinburgh are holding a sit-in protest in the office of the University’s Finance Director, demanding the University increase staff pay.

The students are demanding the University use its weight and influence to argue for real-terms increases in university staff pay, reduce the pay ratio between the lowest paid and the highest paid staff in the university to 10:1 and commit not to sanction participants of the occupation.

University staff nationwide are set to go on strike tomorrow after the employers’ failure to improve their offer of 1% pay rise, which the trade unions have rejected as ‘below inflation’ increase.

One of the occupiers, Kirsty Haigh, who is also Vice-President of Edinburgh University Students’ Association said: “Edinburgh University – and the university sector generally – has plenty of money. We see this every day with millions going on vanity projects and senior managers pay. We are calling on the University to see sense and give staff the pay they deserve.

“University staff have had a real term pay cut of 15% and this is not acceptable. While the Principal earns £227,000 staff have been forced out on strike to demand the wage they deserve. We demand that the University listens to the trade unions and increases staff pay.”

UCU and UNISON claim that members have seen their pay fall in real-terms by 13% and expressed their anger that this comes at a time when “pay and benefits for university leaders increased, on average, by more than £5,000 in 2011-12, with the average pay and pensions package for vice-chancellors hitting almost £250,000.

Last week, the Students’ Association sent a letter to all staff “actively encouraging them to take strike action”. The letter stated that “in the short term this will indeed affect our education, but the long term benefits are significantly vaster. It is critical that students and staff struggle collectively.”

The occupation follows on from similar actions at Birmingham and Sussex Universities protesting the outsourcing of staff and course closures.

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