Unite, Britain’s biggest union sent a message of “solidarity” to university staff planning to strike tomorrow (Wednesday 25 May) amid warnings its members could take action if university bosses failed to make an improved pay offer.
Members of the University and College Union (UCU) are due to walk-out on Wednesday 25 May and Thursday 26 May after union representatives voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action.
The decision comes in response to an offer from the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) of a 1.1 per cent pay rise – an increase of 0.1 per cent on their previous offer for higher education workers.
Unite, which has around 12,000 members in the Higher Education sector, is also consulting on the possibility of joining the action. The consultative ballot opened on the 13 May and closes on 6 June
Jointly the unions are calling for a 5 per cent pay rise for the year 2016-17 and point out that in real terms members’ pay has been eroded by around 15 per cent in the last five years.
Meanwhile pay and benefits for university leaders increased by 6.1 per cent in 2014/15 taking pay and pension packages for vice-chancellors to £270,000.
Mike McCartney, national education officer for Unite said: “We are calling on Unite members to reject the offer on the table. They have seen their pay slashed over recent years, while many university bosses are raking in more than the prime minister.
“Clearly there is unfairness in the pay system and that hurts our members who are mainly technicians, porters and cleaning staff without whom universities would not function. These are the workers who are the key to providing a good student experience.
“If the results of our consultative ballot are positive, as we expect they will be, then we will then move to a ballot for industrial action.
“Sadly the UCEA employers have been totally intransigent and continue to refuse to increase their pay offer. This 1.1 per cent offer is pretty paltry. Higher education staff are dedicated, hard-working professionals, they feel insulted by the offer.
“We are advising our members to support UCU members locally before work, during lunch time and at recognised breaks in their action this week.
“Their fight is our fight and we stand with them in solidarity, determined to win a better, more just, pay deal.”
In addition to the walk outs, the UCU has urged its members to “begin working to contract” from 25 May, meaning lecturers will refuse to work overtime, set additional work or undertake any voluntary duties such as covering timetabled classes for absent colleagues.
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors:
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.