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UCU members vote for strike action in national row over pay

10 October 2013

Members of UCU working in higher education have today voted in favour of strike action in UK universities in a row over pay.

Over three-fifths (62%) of members who voted backed strike action and more than three-quarters (77%) voted for action short of a strike, which could include things like refusing to do unpaid overtime.

The ballot opened last month after university bosses refused to improve a pay offer of just 1%, which the union described as miserly. UCU said its members in higher education have not received a meaningful pay increase since October 2008. Since then, they have suffered four consecutive years of pay cuts and seen their pay drop by 13% in real terms.

The squeeze on staff pay comes at a time when pay and benefits for university leaders increased, on average, by more than £5,000 in 2011-12, with the average pay and pensions package for vice-chancellors hitting almost £250,000, according to the annual Times Higher Education-Grant Thornton pay survey. 

UCU head of higher education, Michael MacNeil, said: 'This result is a reflection of our members' anger at year after year of real terms pay cuts, and the fact that the employers can clearly afford to pay more than the miserly 1% offered this year. 

'The ball is now firmly in the employers' court and we urge them to agree to meet us for urgent talks to resolve the dispute. Strike action is always a last resort, but we will be working closely with our sister trade unions to coordinate any plans. Without meaningful negotiations, aimed at addressing our members' concerns, disruption in universities would seem inevitable.'

The cumulative operating surplus in the higher education sector is now over £1 billion and many higher education institutions have built up cash reserves. Overall staff costs in higher education, as a proportion of income, have fallen from 58% in 2001/02, to 55.5% in 2011/12.

Members of Unison working in higher education have also voted in favour of strike action and the ballot result from the Unite trade union is expected on Monday.

Last updated: 10 December 2015