University staff to strike again

Unions representing higher education staff have announced a second nationwide strike for 3 December.

November 12, 2013

Source: Alamy

Members of the University and College Union, Unite, Unison and the Educational Institute of Scotland will walk out over a 1 per cent pay offer from employers.

It will be the second day of action after the first three unions joined picket lines on 31 October.

In a joint statement, the unions said that pay for staff had fallen by 13 per cent in real terms since 2008. 

“The squeeze on staff pay comes at a time when pay and benefits for university leaders increased, on average, by more than £5,000 in 2011-12, with the average pay and pensions package for vice-chancellors hitting almost £250,000,” it said.

UCU head of higher education, Michael MacNeil, said: “Staff have suffered year-on-year cuts in the value of their pay and have made it clear that enough is enough. We remain committed to trying to resolve this dispute and the employers now have until 3 December to sit down and positively engage with the unions.

“If they don’t, then our members and those from our sister unions will be out on strike again, as well as continuing to work to contract,” he added.

The unions said that universities were operating a collective budget surplus of more than £1 billion.

Unison head of higher education, Jon Richards, said: “Members have had enough. It is a disgrace that universities are sitting on billions of pounds, but are not ready to reward those who make UK universities the best in the world.”

UCU members are currently working to rule as part of the dispute.

The strike on 31 October left some campuses “deserted”, the unions said. But the Universities and Colleges Employers Association claimed that nine out of ten institutions reported “no to low” impact from the strike.

Reacting to today’s announcement, a Ucea spokesman said: “Ever since the initial consultation at the start of this year, Ucea’s 150 participating UK HE employers have continued to say that, given the challenging and uncertain operating environment, the 1 per cent pay uplift is a good and sustainable offer and is at the limit of affordability.

“This of course sits on top of other pay elements totalling around 3 per cent on pay.  So any announcement of further industrial action is naturally disappointing.

“Our institutions tell us that the vast majority of staff understand the reality of the current environment and would not wish to harm their institutions, and especially their students. Ucea continues to say that it is willing to talk to the disputing trade unions so that we can explore together whether the dispute can be resolved.”

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

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