WORKERS at the city’s university took to the picket lines as part of a bitter pay dispute.
The University of Sunderland workers walked out as part of the national one-day strike involving members of Unite, Unison, the University and College Union, UCU, and EIS in Scotland.
The unions represent a large proportion of all the university’s staff, including lecturers, support staff, cleaners, caterers and administrators, all angry at a one per cent pay rise offer, which they claim means a 13 per cent cut in real terms over recent years.
Steve Storey, chairman of the Sunderland University branch of UCU, said they had people protesting outside almost all of the Wearside university’s buildings yesterday, and got a lot of support.
This latest strike was part of a series of one-day and two-hour strikes which have been happening since October last year.
A final two-hour strike is organised to take place on Monday, from 9am to 11am, but Steve said this will not be the end of it.
He said: “I think the strikes are showing that we are committed to protesting and will not be giving up, so I think the message is getting across.
“I think there will be more industrial action to come.”
The union boss added: “When we were on the picket lines we spoke to a number of students, who said they were sympathetic with our cause.”
He said students are paying about £8,000 a year in tuition fees and deserve the best education possible, which they are not going to get if universities are offering poor rates of pay to staff.
Unison’s general secretary, Dave Prentis, said: “For low-paid workers it is a very difficult choice to take strike action, so the decision to walk out for a third time shows the depth of feeling amongst our members.
“Hard working staff have dealt with significant changes that increased their workloads dramatically, yet their incomes have been squeezed to breaking point.”
Union members from the University of Sunderland will be back on the picket line on Monday morning at the City Campus, Chester Road, and the Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter’s, for the two-hour walkout.