UCU members vote for strike in pay row

Almost two-thirds of members voting back strike over 'insulting' 1.1 per cent pay offer

May 4, 2016

Members of the University and College Union working in higher education have voted in favour of strike action over pay.

The union said that 65.4 per cent of members who voted back strike action and 77.3 per cent voted for action short of a strike.

Turnout was 35.5 per cent, the UCU said.

The ballot follows what the UCU called a “marginally improved” offer – via the Universities and Colleges Employers Association – of a 1.1 per cent pay increase for 2016-17.

The union had originally called for a 5 per cent increase.

“The union’s national representatives will meet on Friday to discuss the ballot result, before a decision is made on what form the industrial action will take and when it will begin,” the UCU said, arguing that higher education staff have seen a real-terms pay cut of 14.5 per cent since 2009 after a series of below inflation pay awards.

Sally Hunt, the UCU general secretary, said: “Strike action is always a last resort for educators but the squeeze on pay has created real anger and staff working in higher education want to see a sensible offer which begins to address the real-terms pay cut they have endured since 2009.

“The employer’s marginal 0.1 [percentage point] increase to their 1 per cent offer is insulting and Ucea urgently needs to review its approach.”

A Ucea spokesman, referring to the turnout figure, said: “HE institutions believe that their staff will be perplexed by the UCU's premature ballot and, with just 23 per cent of UCU members voting for strike action, it is clear that the overwhelming majority have no wish to play a part in action that may damage outcomes for their students."  

He added that the "final" pay offer amounted to an average sector increase of 2.7 per cent once progression pay was included, and was "at the absolute limit of affordability and the very best that will be available.

"It is an offer that addresses the key aspects of the trade union claim this year and one that we think all the trade unions should put to their members.”

john.morgan@tesglobal.com

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