Sally Hunt: universities should ‘donate strike pay to bursaries’

UCU leader will tell congress that docked salaries should be handed to student hardship funds

June 1, 2016
sally hunt
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union

Pay docked from university lecturers on strike must be donated to student hardship funds, University and College Union general secretary Sally Hunt will demand later today.

In an address to the union’s congress in Liverpool, which runs from 1-3 June, Ms Hunt will call on vice-chancellors to channel monies lost by staff who walked out for two days over pay into student bursaries.

“Not so long ago, most institutions would give money docked from striking staff to their student hardship funds, these days it is far less likely,” Ms Hunt will tell delegates.

“Vice-chancellors and principals are so busy defending their own exorbitant pay that they have forgotten that universities and colleges are nothing without students and staff,” she will add.

Her address, which will reveal plans for an autumn demonstration in defence of education with the National Union of Students, will also address the future of the UCU, which was founded 10 years ago when the Association of University Teachers merged with the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education in June 2006.

Ms Hunt will explain how the UCU managed to negotiate a 15 per cent pay increase for higher education staff in 2006 – “the largest no-strings public sector pay rise…so far in this century” – which would not have been possible without a 52 per cent turnout in that year’s industrial action ballot.

“It was the mandate that made the employers sit up and take notice,” she will say, adding that it was “our willingness to take serious action on the back of that mandate which delivered those pay rises”.

“Pay rises of the kind we saw in 2006 are more likely when you get a big turnout,” she will state, declaring that “one of our defining missions must be to connect again” with “the missing 15 per cent” who “seem to have stopped voting at all in union ballots”.

Ms Hunt will also highlight the fact that just 10 per cent of eligible staff under 30 are UCU members, compared with 60 per cent of eligible staff over 50.

“You don’t need to be Stephen Hawking to realise that unless we can increase our recruitment of those at the start of their careers, the future will be written without us,” she will say.

Ms Hunt will also label the teaching excellence framework the “daftest idea in the 2015 Conservative Party manifesto”, saying that what ministers propose “simply won’t measure quality”.

In response to Ms Hunt’s remarks, a Universities and Colleges Employers Association spokesman said that many institutions had policies for making a donation to student hardship funds or other causes, such as on-site nursery provision.

It claimed that the staff walkouts on 25 and 26 May over a 1.1 per cent pay offer had caused “no or low disruption” and that turnout was “very low”, with the early reports averaging at fewer than 45 staff involved per institution.

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