Higher education staff have been taking industrial action over real terms pay cuts over the past few months. Members of the University and College Union, Unison, Unite and the Educational Institute of Scotland are taking strike action tomorrow (6th February) in universities around the country. Stroud Against the Cuts sees such action by unions as a necessary part of campaigning against austerity - defending people's jobs and working conditions, and our services.
Unison say: "UNISON members will take a third day of strike action tomorrow 6 February - alongside colleagues from UCU, Unite and EIS -in the increasingly bitter dispute with the higher education employers over their offer of a 1% pay rise. Since the last strike on 3 December, UK university employers have continued their intransigence, informing the unions that they would not hold any further negotiations over pay and telling universities to impose the 1% offer...
- Failure to match increases in the cost of living mean that higher education workers are ‘missing’ from between £667 and £3,547 from their salaries and face a cost of living crisis, as their incomes are squeezed.
- More than 4,000 employees are paid less than the living wage of £7.65 an hour (£8.80 in London).
- UK vice Chancellors have seen their total pay bill increase from £30,116,314 in 2007/8 to £34,115,525 in 2011/12 - an increase of 13% when other workers have seen a real-terms pay cut of 13%." Read more from Unison here.
UCU (the University and College Union) have written a briefing on the Higher Education dispute for students, which explains: "Why are academic and other university professional staff taking industrial action?
The people who teach you, the people who staff your libraries, the people who conduct world-class research in our universities, are having their pay cut. Their pay has fallen by 13% in real terms since 2009 and now staff are angry because their employers are refusing to offer any more than 1% for this year. 1% is way below inflation and as such, is just another pay cut.
This is in spite of the fact that universities are in very good financial shape. Universities are sitting on a collective surplus of more than £1billion plus far bigger reserves. They are congratulating themselves for accumulating these surpluses by awarding their Vice Chancellors an average 6% pay rise. The average Vice Chancellor or Principal now earns £250,000."
The whole briefing is worth a read, it is available here.
There will be picket lines at universities (including at the Francis Close Hall, Cheltenham campus of the University of Gloucestershire), please support these if you happen to be passing - a brief report with from on the picket lines there as part of the same dispute in October last year is below, together with videos about the reasons for the dispute.
You can also see photos and tweets from the day of action here and a selection below, show support on facebook: or twitter, using the hashtag #fairpayinHE. You can also help support the strike by explaining why it is happening to colleagues, family and friends - why not forward them the above information from UCU and Unison?
for Stroud Against the Cuts
Fair Pay in HE - brief report on 31/10/2013 joint strike by UCU, Unite and Unison
On Thursday 31/10/2013 members of the University and College Union (UCU), Unite the Union (Unite)
and Unison took strike action over pay and conditions.
Explaining the key reason for the strike, UCU said: "Staff
have been offered a pay rise of just 1% this year, which
means they have suffered a pay cut of 13% in real terms
since October 2008. 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."
Read the joint press release by UCU, Unite and Unison by
The UCU also have a live feed of information, photos, and
videos related to the strike and ongoing "action short of a
strike" available here.
Stroud Against the Cuts supports university staff. James
Beecher (a UCU member as well as one of Stroud Against
the Cuts' volunteer co-ordinators) visited the picket line at
the Frances Close Hall campus of the University of Gloucestershire.
UCU and Unison members - along with supportive students - picketed three entrances.
The photos below show the picket line at one entrance at around noon, below these are videos on
the strike. There is a story on the This Is Gloucestershire website from the Gloucestershire Echo here.
Videos from Unison and Reel News, feature staff explaining the reasons for the strike,
and a third video from students at the University of the Arts in London explains why students are
supporting the strike: