Four higher education unions joined forces yesterday to strike over London weighting payments.
The action in the capital was complete with a cavalcade containing a stretch limousine of "fat-cat vice-chancellors" chased by an open-top bus - all to the tune of The Kinks' song Tired of Waiting .
Staff want an increase in London weighting. Those in pre-1992 universities have not received an increase to their £2,134 lump sum for ten years.
The Association of University Teachers, Natfhe, Unison and Amicus supported an increase to £4,000. They said the figure was modest compared with the £6,000 given to the Metropolitan Police. The figure is also much less than that recommended by the Greater London Authority and the Bett report into academic pay.
The union's claim received a boost last week from a report by London First, a partnership of about 300 businesses, which said that public-sector workers should receive at least £4,000 a year, and that those earning less than £35,000 a year should be given access to affordable housing.
AUT general secretary Sally Hunt said: "Employers and unions agree that recruitment and retention in London is in crisis. Many university staff can no longer afford to stay in the capital."
The strike, supported by the University of London student's union, is the first of a series of protests.
Jocelyn Prudence, chief executive of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, said: "The issues would be best addressed in our negotiations with the unions about fundamental reform of pay arrangements."
- Most academics in old universities get a £2,134 London weighting; those in new universities get £603-£2,355
- Manual staff receive between £457 and £2,046
- Police get a £6,000 London weighting, teachers £3,000
- The average London house costs more than £200,000
- Property prices are expected to drive 60,000 key workers from the capital in the next decade