Justice for Support Staff

Protest May the 1st, 12pm, at the Clock tower:  https://www.facebook.com/events/160801414088302/?ref=notif¬if_t=plan_user_joined

Birmingham University Unison Website-  http://www.birminghamuniunison.org.uk/

Letter to David Eastwood promising to take action on open days if he carries on with the restructuring: http://www.defendeducationbrum.org/a-letter-to-vc/

Second Letter to Eastwood after he didn’t reply:  http://www.defendeducationbrum.org/second-letter-to-david-eastwood/

Report of what is happening to cleaners:  http://guildofstudentsvpe.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/justice-for-cleaners/

How the restructuring is hitting women hardest: http://www.defendeducationbrum.org/how-the-universitys-proposed-changes-will-affect-women-and-minority-groups-disproportionately/

The university have decided to restructure 361 support staff (at the last count). Different support staff in different areas are at risk of redundancy, loss of pay, and/or a forced change on to casualised contracts. Defend Education opposes all three of these and have made a demand to the university that staff pay and conditions are maintained.

Loss of pay

The majority of the staff being restructured are on less than a living wage. Earning just £13,000 a year (if they have a full time job). In general support staff wages are much too low having faced years of real terms pay cuts. We are against any organisation paying its staff so little and the last thing that is needed is further pay cuts. Cutting support staff pay is especially unacceptable if you compare it to the obscene pay at the top. While pay cuts are being imposed on low paid staff, top pay continues to rise. The university of Birmingham now has 111 staff earning more than £100,000, collectively costing the university more than £14,000,000.

The Vice Chancellor is the second highest paid in the country, getting £406,000 a year. He also gets a number of free perks, such as a free mansion, chauffeur driven jaguar, and a gardener. In 2011 the university spent £282,000 refurbishing his house. It is fundamentally unacceptable for the management of the university to cut the pay of those who need it most while lining their own pockets.


Probably the most significant aspect of the restructuring is an attempt by the university to casualise the conditions of low paid workers. 247 cleaners face being put onto 5 day in 7 contracts, while staff in the conference park are being moved from 5 days in 7 onto annualized hours contracts.  Casualisation of work is an increasing trend and one that we should oppose everywhere. It gives workers much less control over our lives, and makes things like planning time off, seeing friends and family, or dealing with stress far more difficult. The wage for most cleaners is not enough to live on and so many cleaners at the university work three or four jobs; the changes to their contracts will mean they will have to quit these jobs and struggle to get by.

Many students will have worked in a casualised job, and so know how shit it is and how you are completely at the mercy of your manager to tell you when to work. Many students will find themselves in this sort of a job after they leave unless we do something about it, and there is nowhere better to start than here.If the university wants to stay open at weekends and on bank holidays, which it should; then it should accept the negative consequences for people working those hours and pay overtime rates.


University restructuring (as well as university policy generally) should remember that without staff the university would be nothing. If changes need to be made they should be done in a consensual way taking the views of all staff into account. There is very rarely, if ever, a need to make redundancies. Redundancies are a symptom and a tool of authoritarian management, they allow managers to act how they want and intimidate workers with the threat that they will loose their jobs. We want to see a university that is run in a consensual way- with staff, students and the local community- rather than by a handful of obscenely paid managers.