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UCU response to universities' refusal to talk about pay in strikes row

5 December 2019 | last updated: 6 December 2019

UCU has called for sensible university leaders to speak out if disputes that have seen eight strike days already this term are to be resolved

The union was responding to a letter from the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) that said it would not talk to the union about pay - one of the issues at the heart of the disputes. UCEA's own recent pay report that found that staff pay has fallen by around 17% in the last 10 years.

UCU members took eight days of strike action from Monday 25 November - Wednesday 4 December in two disputes. One focuses on changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme and one is about pay, casualisation, workloads and inequality.

UCU said it was impossible not to talk about pay when other elements of that dispute were so clearly linked to it. The union said if universities met the union's pay claim that would help alleviate pay inequality as there are disproportionate women and black and minority ethnic (BME) staff on lower pay.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'Universities' refusal to move the dispute forward is incredibly frustrating for staff and for students. You cannot refuse to talk about pay, yet say you want to talk about closing pay gaps that exist for women and BME staff, or to look at casualisation and how people are stuck in poorly-paid roles.

'The disputes cover the key problems for staff working in universities and they must all be properly addressed. The growing number of vice-chancellors who have joined their staff on picket lines or said they want to do more but can't intervene in a national dispute need to step up to the plate.

'The employers' side need pragmatic and sensible vice-chancellors to come forward and start setting out practical ways to work with us to resolve these disputes. Staff are not making unreasonable demands and they deserve basic levels to be established so we can build on them going forward. None of this cannot be achieved by refusing to talk about the key issue of pay.'

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