University and College Union members vote for industrial action over pay

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Higher education staff who are members of the University and College Union (UCU) have voted in favour of industrial action over pay.

More than two-thirds (65%) of UCU members that took part in the ballot voted in favour of strike action and 77% voted in favour of industrial action excluding a strike.

The vote follows on from pay negotiations with the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), which presented an offer of a 1.1% rise on base pay to UCU, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), GMB, Unison and Unite.

Based on the lowest paid staff, UCEA believes this offer will bring the hourly rate to £8.25, with a minimum sector salary of £15,052. Added to progression and contribution pay, which around half of the employees are entitled to, UCEA expects the offer to create a sector pay increase of 2.7%.

UCU representatives are meeting today (Friday 6 May) to discuss the outcome of the ballot and decide on the form and timing of industrial action.

Trade union Unison’s Higher Education service group executive will meet on 10 May to consider its response to the offer.

Sally Hunt, general secretary at the UCU, said: “Strike action is always a last resort for educators but the squeeze on pay has created real anger and staff working in higher education want to see a sensible offer which begins to address the real terms pay cut they have endured since 2009.

“The employer’s marginal 0.1% increase to their 1% offer is insulting and UCEA urgently needs to review its approach.”

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A UCEA spokesperson added: “Higher education institutions believe that their staff will be perplexed by UCU’s premature ballot and, with just 23% of UCU members voting for strike action, it is clear that the overwhelming majority have no wish to play a part in action that may damage outcomes for their students.

“This final offer, taking the total average sector increase to 2.7%, is at the absolute limit of affordability and the very best that will be available. It is an offer that addresses the key aspects of the trade union claim this year and one that we think all the trade unions should put to their members.”