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‘Fabulously wealthy’ Cambridge University should shut up and pay up says Unite on eve of strikes

Over 450 Unite members at Cambridge University will strike on March 12, 13, and 14

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Further strikes by key workers were announced today as Unite, one of the UK’s biggest trade unions, pointed an accusing finger at their Cambridge University employers for sitting on over £6 billion of cash and investments.

“In depth research has uncovered that Cambridge University is sitting on over £6 billion of cash and investments while trying to maintain it can’t afford to help its lowest paid workers, said a union spokesperson.

The claims were made to coincide with fresh strike action by university workers.

Over 450 Unite members at the university are taking further strike action on March 12, 13, and 14.

Unite regional officer Ian Maidlow said: “Our members do vital work for the university and keep essential services for students and academics up and running.

“The resulting disruption to the smooth running of the university is a direct consequence of management’s intransigence in making a decent pay offer.”

Cleaners, librarians, museum workers and many other staff at the university have been in a long-running pay dispute over claims by the union they have failed to acknowledge the cost of housing in Cambridge as well as the wider inflationary pressure on its lowest paid workers.

“Some are being paid less than £23,000 per year yet live and work in one of the most expensive parts of the country,” said the Unite spokesperson.

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Unite has compiled a financial report that shows that Cambridge University is in rude financial health. IMAGE: Unite

Unite has compiled a financial report that shows that Cambridge University is in rude financial health. IMAGE: Unite

Unite has compiled a financial report that shows that Cambridge University is in rude financial health. Some of its findings claim:

  • The university is fabulously wealthy, holding cash and investments worth around £6 billion as of July 2023.
  • The largest component of these assets is held in the Cambridge University Endowment Fund known as CUEF. CUEF assets have grown by £477 million in the last three years.
  • Unrestricted funds have grown by £1.5 billion since 2020, and by £800 million after excluding pension fund changes

“Meanwhile, Unite’s members who are asking for just an additional £5,000 per year ‘Cambridge weighting’ are being told the university cannot afford the £75million this would cost, “said the spokesperson.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Cambridge University is one of the richest education institutions in the UK and has billions of pounds at its disposal.

“Yet rather than help its lowest paid workers with the cost of living in one of the most expensive cities in the UK it is fiddling while Rome burns.

“It’s pleas of poverty have been exposed as being entirely hollow.

“Unite’s commitment to the jobs, pay and conditions of its members means it never stands on the sidelines. The workers at Cambridge University have the union’s full backing in their fight for fair pay.”

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