Pay and pensions issues prompt higher education strike

Decent wage offer needed and pensions preserved

Staff are striking at 11 universities and higher education institutions from today (Monday) over a range of issues including pay and pensions, UNISON says.

Action will take place on several days over the next fortnight at Birkbeck, SOAS, City, King’s College London, Goldsmiths (all University of London), Trinity Laban, Brighton University, Edinburgh Napier University, Gloucestershire University, Leeds University and Queen Margaret University.

Staff at nine of the institutions have voted to strike over a pay offer of 1.5%. In addition, three universities will be taking industrial action on changes to their pension, the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS). Staff at Goldsmiths are also in dispute over compulsory redundancy plans and potential reductions to their pay. ​

The University and College Union (UCU) is also staging a series of strikes at several universities over pay and pension issues over the coming days.

UNISON head of education Mike Short said: “University staff have had enough of real-term pay cuts. Over the past 12 years, the value of higher education pay has declined significantly.

“With so many workers facing a cost-of-living crisis this year, it is more urgent than ever that employers get back round the table to make a decent and fair offer.

“University staff have helped students during the pandemic, providing pastoral care, food, mental health support and so much more.

“Employees have also ensured IT systems allowed education to continue remotely and that vital research was uninterrupted. It’s time they received the pay rise so desperately needed and deserved.

“Many are planning to leave for better paid jobs in other parts of the economy. An above-inflation wage rise is needed to persuade valued staff to stay.

“Many are also unhappy their pension schemes will be changing for the worse. USS pension benefits must be preserved. The scheme must be affordable so staff can save for a decent retirement. It’s vital there’s a rethink.”

Notes to editors:
– Strike action is being staged on the following dates:
Birkbeck (pay) – 21, 22, 28 February, 1, 2 March
Brighton University (pay) – 1, 2 March
City (pay) – 21, 22, 28 February, 1, 2 March
Edinburgh Napier University (pay) – 28 February, 1, 2 March
Gloucestershire University (pay) – 2 March
Goldsmiths (pay reduction and redundancies) – 2, 3, 4 March
King’s College London (pay) – 2, 3 March
Leeds University (pay and USS) – 28 February, 1, 2 March
Queen Margaret University (pay) – 28 February
SOAS (pay and pensions) – 21, 22, 28 February, 1, 2 March
Trinity Laban Conservatoire (pensions) – 2 March
– UNISON is working closely with UCU throughout the strike period.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

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