Unite members ballot for industrial action after university offers real terms pay cut


Essential workers at Cambridge University are balloting for industrial action after the university cut their pay in real terms.


One of the world’s most prestigious institutes of learning, the university is only offering between a five and six per cent increase. With RPI currently sitting at nine per cent that represents a real terms pay cut of at least three per cent. Unite’s members are demanding above-inflation rises to cope with the cost of living in one of the most expensive parts of the UK outside London.


450 members working in the university library, the department of engineering, estate management, the Fitzwilliam Museum and information services will be balloted over industrial action.


The ballot opens on Tuesday 5 September and closes on Monday 9 October. Should it be successful, strike action is expected to commence in late October 2023, coinciding with students returning for the Michaelmas term.


Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, commented: “For over a decade Cambridge University has been offering below inflation pay rises and our members have had enough. It might be a prestigious university, but that doesn’t put food on the table or pay the bills of essential workers doing vital roles across the university.”


“Our members will have the full support of Unite as they stand up to their employer and demand a fair pay deal.”


Unite regional coordinating officer, Ian Maidlow, added: “Our workers are being forced to take this action in response to the continued real terms pay cuts by one of the richest education establishments in the country.”


“Any strike action will bring substantial disruption to services for students and staff including building closures. I’d urge the university to come back to the negotiating table with a better offer worthy of our members’ hard work.”


Cambridge University was ranked the third-best university in the world in 2023 [1] and its last accounts show it has an income of over £2.2 billion, assets of over £6.6 billion and an operating surplus of £120 million [2].




For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications adviser David Carnell on 07718 666592.


Email: [email protected]


  • Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.