London strike threat

November 5, 2004

More than 2,000 technical and administrative staff at London universities may take industrial action over what they claim is a whitewash by employers over rising living costs in the capital.

Members of the public sector union Amicus are considering the action following the publication of a report, commissioned by the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association, on London weightings - income increments paid to reflect higher living costs in the capital.

Mike Robinson, Amicus national secretary, said the Income Data Services report failed to properly consult employees or union representatives and was written under the assumption that allowances should be based on recruitment and retention premiums rather than compensating for the high costs of living in London.

"The IDS report is a whitewash aimed at burying the crisis facing London universities," he said.

London weighting at new universities is £2,533 a year and £2,134 at pre-1992 institutions. All other public sector weightings are higher, with police topping the list at £6,000 and nurses earning an extra Pounds 3,441 a year. Amicus is calling for £4,000 more.

Union representatives will meet with Ucea this week.

A report by the London Weighting Advisory Panel, commissioned by the Greater London Assembly in June 2002, recommended that London weighting in the public sector should be set by private-sector comparisons. The GLA and trade unions both recommend a London weighting of £4,000, according to Amicus.

* A strike over civil service job cuts and pension changes hit the Higher Education Funding Council for England this week amid claims that Whitehall job losses will undermine universities' efforts to attract more working- class students, writes Paul Hill .

The Public and Commercial Services Union called the one-day strike in response to Government plans to cut 100,000 jobs across Whitehall. About 60 per cent of Hefce's 260 employees are members of the union.

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