This is a useful reminder of the key points of the dispute – particularly useful when talking to trhe press but also worth reading through for all those other conversations:
What is happening?
- UCU members at 145 institutions have voted to take industrial action over pay and working conditions
What is the dispute about / why are we striking?
- Joint union claim was for inflation + 2% or 12% whichever is highest
- Employer’s final offer of 3% was rejected nationally by the joint unions
- Inflation is currently running at around 12% so a 3% pay award would be sigificantly below inflation
- Staff have already had an effective 28.2% cut in pay since 2009
Meanwhile employers have failed to take effective action to tackle issues of excessive workload, rising casualization and persistent inequality in pay.
- Workload is a significant issue across the sector.
- Staff regularly working well in excess of their contractual hours
- UCU workload survey 2021 shows:
- academic staff working on average of 51.3 hrs a week.
- Prof services working 44.4 hrs
- 33% of staff said workload unmanageable
- Research by charity Education Support shows significant impact on health of members
Equality pay gaps:
- There are persistent inequality in pay across the sector and equality pay gaps are not falling at any meaningful rate. Current rates
- Ethnicity 17%
- Disability 9%
- Gender 16%
- Take 22 years at current rates to close the gap
- Casualisation increasing
- 33% of all academic staff now on ft contracts
- Rise in worker contracts
- Significant impact on members
- 42% struggle to pay bills
- 71% say mental health affected
- 43% say impact physical wellbeing
These are all national issues affecting staff at all Universities, so require national solutions.
Is this affordable?
Yes, the claim is affordable
- Total cost of claim is less than £1 Billion nationally
- HE sector income was £42.4 billion in 2019/20
- Surplus of £3.4billion
- Sector’s capital expenditure £4.2Billion
- Proportion of expenditure spent across the sector on pay has dropped from 54.6% in 2015/16 to – 51.6% in 19/20
Institution specific financial info for 2020/21 can be found here: UCU – HE institution data
Includes info on:
- VC remuneration
UCU took industrial action on the same issues last year, what is different this time?
- Aggregated ballot so members at all institutions will be on strike.
- Inflation is running at over 10% which makes the need for a fair deal more urgent
Impact on students?
- Successful industrial action will ultimately cause disruption to students
- Our members are education professionals and do not take the decision to take industrial action lightly
- Fighting for the future of the profession
- Issues that we are fighting – low pay, inequality, casualization and excessive workload – impact most significantly on early years staff and make it less attractive to new staff
- University management has had ample warning that it would face industrial action unless it met our demands.
- Instead they have imposed a sub-inflationary pay award and failed to act on the issues that are impacting staff
- Students understand that staff working conditions are their learning conditions
- High staff turnover and overworked staff impact on the education that students receive
- Students know that the staff work hard to support them and must be paid fairly
- Because of this students are generally supportive of the action
- Our student’s union or supports the strike.
What do employers need to do to resolve the dispute?
- This is a national dispute and will need a national solution
- Employers should be putting pressure on their representative body – UCEA – to negotiate a fair pay award and national frameworks to address the issues of workload, casualisation and inequality in pay.