Higher Education members urged to strike for better pay

UNISON believes that no employee in higher education should be paid less than the Living Wage

With universities putting billions away in the bank last year, it is clear that money is available for a pay increase and the employers could make an improved pay offer on their miserly 1.1% pay offer.

In 2014 to 2015 the average salary of a UK vice chancellor was £272,000 and their average pay rise was a massive 6.1%. The number of staff paid above £100,000 per year is also increasing.

UNISON expects the employers to use the uncertainty caused by the EU referendum decision as another excuse to avoid a decent pay award. However, the long-term impact of the EU vote is not known and currently the UK remains in the EU. The world-class reputation of UK universities should remain unaffected by the Brexit decision.

UNISON Head of Higher Education Donna Rowe-Merriman said: “Pay austerity is a ‘choice’ being made by universities – not a necessity. There is clearly money available for some. We believe it should be available for all.

“Since 2009 staff have lost between £1585 – £8428 in real terms as a result of pay rises below the cost of living. Their income has been squeezed and lower salaries will also affect future pension earnings.”

UNISON believes that no employee in higher education should be paid less than the Foundation Living Wage (£8.25p / £9.40 in London) and that it is time for incomes for everyone working on campus to match the rising costs of living.

“Low pay rises have not protected jobs or prevented redundancies,” added Donna. “Job losses have still happened as a result of poor governance and planning.

“A clear majority of members rejected the pay offer in UNISON’s pay consultation. Therefore UNISON’s Higher Education Service Group Executive (HESGE) decided to ballot members and call on them to take escalating industrial action in the autumn.

“UNISON’s HESGE believes the only way for an improved pay offer from the employers is for members to take strike action and show the University employers that enough is enough and that staff need an investment in their pay too.”

The strike ballot will take place in September 2016 and UNISON branches and regions will be arranging meetings so that members can ask about any issues on the offer.