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UCU to ballot higher education staff for industrial action over pay

29 June 2018 | last updated: 20 July 2018

UCU has announced today that it will ballot its higher education members for industrial action later this year as part of a row over pay.

The ballot will open in August and close in October 2018.

The dispute has arisen after the Universities and Colleges' Employers Association (UCEA) made a final offer of 2% at the last joint negotiating meeting in May. UCU said the offer does nothing to address the falling value of higher education pay, which has declined in real terms by 21% since 2009.

The union said that universities could afford to pay more but were choosing to prioritise capital expenditure over staff. Spending on staff has fallen since 2009/10 to just 52.9% of income in 2016/17, while capital expenditure increased by 35% over the same period. This is despite students saying they would like to see spending on teaching staff prioritised.

UCU also said its members were frustrated by the employers' refusal to commit to meaningful action to tackle the pay gap and insecure employment practices.

Today's announcement follows an initial consultation with members in which 82% voted to reject the offer and 65% said they were prepared to take industrial action in defence of their pay. Turnout was 47.7%.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Staff working in our universities have had enough of seeing their wages held down while institutions prioritise capital spending and building reserves. The employers' below-inflation pay offer does nothing to address years of decline in the value of higher education pay so we now have little option but to ballot for strike action.

'Universities would do well to listen to their students and make investment in staff a top priority. That means a decent pay offer and concrete commitments to tackle problems with gender pay and insecure employment.'

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