University staff fight for fair pay after vice chancellor receives massive bonus

Support staff at the University of Bolton are fighting for fair pay, after the university’s vice chancellor was awarded a one-off “retention bonus” of £42,700 during a period of unprecedented redundancies and cuts at the campus.

Last year, the university was the only higher education institution in the country not to award the nationally agreed 1% pay rise, at the discretion of vice chancellor George Holmes. This came on top of campus-wide redundancies, resulting in over 70 staff leaving the university.

UNISON’s head of higher education Donna Rowe-Merriman said: “It is a disgraceful act to withhold a nationally negotiated pay settlement to your staff, make large-scale redundancies and then accept a massive one-off ‘bonus’ payment for your actions.

“Questions need to be asked about these actions, but more importantly answers need to be given as a matter of urgency and the nationally agreed pay award for last year needs to be paid to our members now.”

The UNISON-led campaign comes at a time when staff in universities nationwide are preparing for a ballot on industrial action for fairer pay.

Work poverty is increasingly a concern for these staff, as the last four years of below-inflation pay rises have seen pay cut by 13% in real terms.

Janet Shaw, a librarian at the University of Bolton said: “I could go on forever about how the lack of a decent pay rise has affected me. Our family has only been saved by the fact that the interest on our mortgage dropped and council tax was frozen.

“You can’t expect people to accept pay cuts and pay freezes when everything else is going up. In April this year tax thresholds changed alongside a surge of price increases. Most of us were using that money just to survive.”

Bolton MPs have become involved in the campaign, writing to the vice chancellor to question his decision not to award last year’s pay rise. They are still awaiting a definitive response from his office.

For more information on UNISON’s University of Bolton campaign please contact Theresa Griffin, UNISON North West regional head for higher education at, or Bernadette Gallagher, Bolton Metro branch secretary at