Members of the University and College Union (UCU), the largest higher education trade union, are being urged to reject a one per cent pay offer in a forthcoming ballot. The rejection of the pay increase would raise the prospect of industrial action in universities across the country.
University staff who belong to the UCU will be consulted on the final offer after delegates at the union’s congress in Glasgow on 23-24 May backed the motion offered by representatives from Leeds Beckett University that said: “The UCU should call for members to reject the offer and vote yes for strike action and action short of a strike.”
In the most recent proposal, pay for staff on the eight lowest points of the national pay spine would be increased by up to 2.65 per cent. This would mean that these specific members of staff will be paid at the living wage at the very least, which is £9.15 per hour in London and £7.85 per hour in the rest of the country.
The offer of one per cent for the rest of the pay spine has been described as “disappointing” by the UCU and denotes a small increase on the employers’ original proposal of 0.9 per cent.
Commenting on the potential strike action, David Duncan, University Registrar and Secretary told Nouse: “It is extremely unlikely that the employers will revise their final pay offer, given that it is above inflation and ensures that all university staff across the country are paid at least the living wage.
“The employers are also conscious of the very real pressures on university finances at the present time, bearing in mind that the government has just announced £450m of in-year cuts to the HE/FE sector budget. Further cuts may be coming in later years.
“It will be for trade union members to decide how they respond to the UCU recommendation. We very much hope that we are not heading into another round of industrial action but if this does happen, we will do everything we can to minimise the effects on students”.
In a separate congress vote, delegates supported plans to ask union members to boycott the implementation of the government’s Prevent counter-terror strategy despite concerns that non-cooperation with the strategy may be illegal.
The initiative includes the aim to stop students from becoming radicalised in universities.