UNISON members will take a third day of strike action tomorrow 6 February – alongside colleagues from UCU, Unite and EIS – in the increasingly bitter dispute with the higher education employers over their offer of a 1% pay rise.
Since the last strike on 3 December, UK university employers have continued their intransigence, informing the unions that they would not hold any further negotiations over pay and telling universities to impose the 1% offer.
Figures released in January show that vice chancellors’’ pay rose by 8.1% in 2013, further demonstrating the myth that a decent pay rise for all staff is unaffordable.
The employer-imposed pay rise of 1% does not address the increasing costs of living for staff who face rising energy costs and increasing food bills.
The higher education sector is an economic success story.
It has seen massive surpluses of more than £1bn a year over the last two years and is described as “sound overall” by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, with more surplus forecast for the year ahead.
“UK Universities are amongst the best in the world,” notes UNISON head of higher education Donna Rowe-Merriman.
“They have seen their income increase while students have seen their fees increase to £9,000. Universities have invested in new buildings and public spaces – as well as the odd Picasso
“We want to see investment in the staff that provide services to students.”
Across the UK university workers are seeing their terms and conditions eroded and their salaries squeezed to breaking point.
- Failure to match increases in the cost of living mean that higher education workers are ‘missing’ from between £667 and £3,547 from their salaries and face a cost of living crisis, as their incomes are squeezed.
- More than 4,000 employees are paid less than the living wage of £7.65 an hour (£8.80 in London).
- UK vice Chancellors have seen their total pay bill increase from £30,116,314 in 2007/8 to £34,115,525 in 2011/12 – an increase of 13% when other workers have seen a real-terms pay cut of 13%.
UNISON members will strike tormorrowary to demand a decent pay rise and call on the employers to return to negotiations to make an offer that members deserve.