70,000 UCU members begin strike ballot next week

Around 70,000 UCU members in 143 UK universities are being balloted for strike action in a row over pay and conditions.

The ballot opens on Tuesday and closes on February 22. The dispute rests on universities’ failure to improve on the 2% pay offer made at pay talks last May. UCU said that offer from the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) did nothing to address the falling value of higher education pay, which has declined in real terms by 21% since 2009.

UCU wrote to vice-chancellors and principals in July asking them to intervene in the negotiations and persuade UCEA to return with an offer that better reflected the demands in the union’s claim. The union said that as no offer has been made by UCEA which UCU could recommend to its members, it had no alternative but to ballot for industrial action.

UCU had sought guarantees that universities would tackle the gender pay gap, insecure contracts and excessive workloads, as well as an offer that seriously addressed the fall in the value of their pay, which has dropped by 21% in real terms since 2009.

UCU head of policy Matt Waddup, said: “Staff have concerns about spiralling workloads, pay inequality and the continued casualisation of the workforce. Yet universities have failed to engage with us in these negotiations which has undermined the credibility of national bargaining and left us in a situation where we have no alternative but to ballot our members.

“Staff want these important issues to be taken seriously, and that includes the 21% loss in the value of their pay since 2009, which the recently imposed 2% pay offer does nothing to address.”

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