In the recent ballot, UNISON members have voted to reject the offer of a 1% pay increase made to us by the HE employers’ association, UCEA, and in favour of strike action in order to achieve a fairer offer. Following UNISON’s vote for strike action, UCU and UNITE have both also voted for strike action. Our Higher Education service group executive met on Monday, and a one day strike has been called for Thursday, 31st October, alongside UCU and UNITE.
But why should you strike?
1. The University sector has the money to pay staff a fairer wage for the vast amount of work we put it in. Surpluses in the HE sector are about £1 billion. Our own Vice-Chancellor enjoyed an increase in his salary and taxable benefits from £204,000 in 2011 to £238,000 in 2012. So why are we being told that 1% is good enough for us?
2. UNISON, UCU, GMB and UNITE are demanding that national agreements be reached over workload in HE. We are already overworked, and the best way to start to address this problem is national level agreement. A strike sends a strong message that we both expect fair pay for the hard work we put in as well as manageable workloads.
3. Our pay has already fallen by 13% in real terms in just five years, while inflation has seen prices rise by 15%. UCEA has now not offered a fair pay deal in 5 years, and unless we show that we are serious about fair pay for hard work in HE, that will not change.
4. More than 4,000 HE staff are paid below the Living Wage, and required to subsist on poverty wages. UCEA have refused to enter serious discussions about ensuring that no-one working in HE is paid below the Living Wage (£7.45 outside of London, £8.55 within London).
5. UNISON, UNITE and the UCU are calling for UCEA to engage in serious negotiations about fair pay, fair workloads, and an end to poverty pay, and only strike action can now achieve this.
A strong strike is crucial for success, and we would ask that all members speak to their co-workers about what UNISON is doing to protect their pay, and to ask them to join UNISON if they are not already members. This sort of activity can really make a massive difference.
It is expected that all members of UNISON will respect the decision of their colleagues to vote for strike action, and will be on strike on 31st October.
Contact us if you have any questions or want to help with organising for the strike.
Higher education industrial action 2013 – UNISON