University strikes called off as pay talks are set to continue

Improved pay offer for many lower earners

Strikes due to take place over the next two weeks involving university support staff belonging to UNISON have been called off today (Friday) following talks at conciliation service ACAS.

Five unions – UNISON, UCU, GMB, Unite and EIS – issued a joint statement with the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), which will see the strikes over pay suspended.

This follows an agreement from the employers to give more money to the lowest paid in higher education and undertake a thorough review of the salary grades of all staff.

Both sides have agreed to further talks to discuss the grading issue, as well as other concerns including zero-hours contracts.

Commenting on the breakthrough, UNISON head of education Mike Short said: “Improving the wages of the lowest paid university employees is a crucial step. Cleaners, domestic staff and others at the bottom of the pay scales have been in dire need of help.

“The pay structure in the sector has been unfit for purpose for years, with far too many staff earning just the minimum wage with little chance to progress in their careers.

“The fact that talks are to continue is a positive move. It’s vital that progress is made in improving the wages of everyone working in higher education.

Notes to editors:
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union and the largest union in the NHS and in the ambulance sector. It has 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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