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Leeds Trinity University Support Staff Resorted To Using Food Banks

Laura Shand – Union Representative at Leeds Trinity University

Today support staff at Leeds Trinity University have been on strike in a national pay dispute with university bosses.

Cleaners, IT technicians, administrators and library staff were among those who walked out in two days of industrial action.

Unison claim: ‘Staff have to choose between essentials, when last year the higher education sector made record profits. Unison members are support staff who keep the university running- but our pay value has declined 33% over 14 years.’

Laura Shand, the Unison representative at Leeds Trinity University said their members are having to use food banks, take second jobs or leave the sector entirely.

She called for support from LTU and Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA). She said: “There is plenty they can do, give us cost of living payments.” She added: “We are all in the struggle together with the students as well, we know they are suffering with the cost of living.”

The Trussel Trust have distributed 1.5 million emergency food parcels to people between April and September 2023, a 16% increase from last year. They said: ‘Food banks are at a breaking point.’

This strike comes after a 6% pay offer from UCEA was proposed (at point 20 on the pay spine – support staff in higher education), however, 82% of Unison members rejected this offer as it was a ‘below-inflation pay deal’ and re-balloted for strike action. Mike Short, Unison’s Head of Education said: “University staff are still waiting for a decent pay offer from universities and now have little option but to escalate their action.”

The UCEA have responded to the ongoing dispute. Raj Jethwa, UCEA’s Chief Executive said: “It will be disappointing if some Unison members at Leeds Trinity University choose to participate in this industrial action.” He added: “This year’s pay uplift of 5-8% prioritised the disproportionate effect on high inflation falling on the lower paid. UCEA is ready and waiting to resume this work with the unions.”

Yorkshire Voice contacted Leeds Trinity University for a comment on today’s strike action and we were still waiting for a response at the time of publication.

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