Members of the Unite union called for Cambridge to re-open pay talksPhoebe Qiu for Varsity

Non-teaching staff called on Cambridge University to re-open pay negotiations in a strike rally outside Senate House  on Thursday (14/03).

The University has been hit with another slate of strikes this week, comprising of over 400 Unite members in non-academic departments.

Speeches were made by representatives from Unite, Cambridge University Labour Club (CULC), University and College Union (UCU) and Cambridge SU.

This comes as negotiations are yet to be re-opened over Unite’s pay dispute with the University.

One striking staff member told Varsity that some of the university’s staff are on the verge of poverty and “rely on food banks” as a result of inflation.

“Many of us can’t even afford to live in Cambridge and have to commute,” they said. “It is disrespectful of the university to make us go to them and beg for fair pay.”

Unite declared that it is “unacceptable for the university to plead poverty” as the “university is fabulously wealthy, holding cash and investments worth around £6 billion as of July 2023.”

This £6 billion excludes other assets the university possesses such as all the institution’s buildings.

On member of Cambridge’s Labour club (CULC) told Varsity that all students should support strike action: “These workers work hard to provide us with a world-class education. It is our duty to stand by and support them to get a fair wage.”

Emily Perdue, branch chair for Unite, told Varsity: “We are striking at the moment because we have to continue. We have a mandate and the university hasn’t responded yet.”

“We will continue until the university opens up negotiations again. We don’t do it idly but because striking is our democratic tool,” she continued.


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Unite members picket University over pay dispute

A spokesperson for the University told Varsity: “We are committed to open and constructive dialogue with Unite and have held regular meetings with the union, including with the University’s Chief Financial Officer, as well as hosting a recent all-staff meeting on the University’s finances.”

“We have commissioned a pay review which is being progressed as a matter of urgency. A special joint negotiating committee with representatives from all three recognised unions, including Unite, has been constituted to discuss this pay review. We regret therefore that this industrial action has gone ahead, but we are making every effort to minimise the impact,” they added.