Tuesday, 4 February 2014

UCU industrial action with Unison, Unite and EIS

Dear colleague,

The next phase of our campaign of industrial action resumes this week. UCU has joined our colleagues from Unison, Unite and EIS in calling a full day strike for this   Thursday, 6 February. 

A further two hour strike has been called for 9am-11am on Monday 10th February

Please support the strikes as we continue our campaign for fair pay in higher education.  

Last week saw UCEA briefing the press once again that most staff have received 3-4% increases a year since 2009, including incremental pay. Yet, as the employers have previously told us in negotiations some 60% of staff receive no increments at all.  In fact, if one looks at the figures from the Office of National Statistics, average pay for full time academic staff increased by just 0.3% in 2013, 0.6% in 2012 and actually fell by 1% in 2011. My hope is that UCEA will stop spinning and finally now agree to address themselves to the union's claim before it is too late.

The purpose of our action is simple: to seek a resumption of negotiations and a fair deal on pay.

1. A fair deal is possible when Vice Chancellors and Principals get 5% increases while staff get just 1%.  
2. A fair deal is achievable when our sector has a combined surplus of more than £1bn and has built up reserves many times that on the back of previous pay restraint.  
3. And a fair deal is essential when the Office for National Statistics shows that average annual pay for full time academic staff has remained stagnant since 2010.

Last week saw a substantial increase in student complaints to UCU about the disruption caused by our strikes. My response has been to say that UCU and our fellow unions prefer not to strike but we cannot negotiate with an empty chair. Without urgent and meaningful negotiations, this dispute is fast reaching the point where real damage will be done to our sector.  Students should therefore contact their institution head and ask them to lobby UCEA to reopen negotiations.  We are meeting the National Union of Students (NUS) tomorrow to discuss the deteriorating situation and I will thank them for their continuing support for a "fair and sustainable settlement" for staff.  In return for their support, I hope that you will let your students have a version of the template letter produced by UCU which sets out the reasons for the dispute and is available here. Please also direct them to our new briefing for students, which you can find here

Sally Hunt,
UCU General Secretary

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