Unite university staff strike for third time on 6 February in pay dispute



Higher education (HE) staff, members of Unite, the country’s largest union, will stage a third one day strike on Thursday 6 February in the dispute over a ‘paltry’ one per cent pay offer.

Unite, along with other HE staff unions, will strike a month after the furore caused by the revelation that vice chancellors at the elite Russell Group of universities were pocketing big pay rises, while trying to enforce the one per cent pay rise on staff.

Unite national officer for education Mike McCartney said: “Our members have endured a six-year pay drought which has seen a 13 per cent cut in pay in real terms since 2008.

“In the context of the cost of living crisis, the current one per cent on offer is paltry. This also has to be seen against the background of the top university vice chancellors having an average £22,000 pay rise in 2012-13.

“There is a strong stench of hypocrisy with the university bosses saying: ‘Do as we say, not as we do’.

“This will be the third day of strike action our members have taken – and more industrial action is on the cards in 2014, unless the employers get around the table to negotiate a fair and equitable settlement for those that keep Britain in the top 10 global university league table.

“A decent pay rise can well be afforded by the higher education sector as it is sitting on a cash mountain with an operating surplus of more than £1 billion.”

Earlier this month, a Times Higher Education (THE) survey of 19 of the Russell Group’s 24 members revealed that the average vice chancellor salary in the group increased by just over £22,000 to nearly £293,000 in 2012-13. The cumulative operating surplus in the higher education sector is now over £1 billion and many higher education institutions have built up cash reserves. Overall staff costs in higher education, as a proportion of income, have fallen from 58 per cent in 2001/02, to 55.5 per cent in 2011/12.

Unite’s university membership embraces science technicians, administrators and facilities management staff. The union has about 20,000 members in higher education.

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