Unite members to vote on whether to join UCU pay dispute

UCU Bath strikeUCU members today begin their second day of national strike action buoyed by the fact they may be joined by Unite members.

As university lecturers walk out over a 1.1% pay rise, Unite members working in the Higher Education sector are taking part in a consultative ballot on the possibility of joining them.

Jointly the unions are calling for a 5% pay rise for the year 2016-17 and point out that in real terms members’ pay has been eroded by around 15% in the last five years.

Meanwhile pay and benefits for university leaders increased by 6.1% in 2014/15 taking pay and pension packages for vice-chancellors to £270,000.

Mike McCartney, national education officer for Unite, said: “We are calling on Unite members to reject the offer on the table. They have seen their pay slashed over recent years, while many university bosses are raking in more than the prime minister.

“Clearly there is unfairness in the pay system and that hurts our members who are mainly technicians, porters and cleaning staff without whom universities would not function. These are the workers who are the key to providing a good student experience.

“If the results of our consultative ballot are positive, as we expect they will be, then we will then move to a ballot for industrial action.

“Sadly the UCEA employers have been totally intransigent and continue to refuse to increase their pay offer. This 1.1 per cent offer is pretty paltry. Higher education staff are dedicated, hard-working professionals, they feel insulted by the offer.

“We are advising our members to support UCU members locally before work, during lunch time and at recognised breaks in their action this week.

“Their fight is our fight and we stand with them in solidarity, determined to win a better, more just, pay deal.”

In addition to the walk outs, the UCU has urged its members to “begin working to contract” from 25 May, meaning lecturers will refuse to work overtime, set additional work or undertake any voluntary duties such as covering timetabled classes for absent colleagues.

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