Monday, 28 October 2013

FILM: UNISON Higher Education Strike for Fair Pay, 31 October. #FairPayinHE



London Region HE pre-strike rally 29 October

London Region HE pre-strike rally 29 October

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Time to strike for fair pay in HE

All out this Halloween!

Pre-strike Public Meeting:

Tuesday 29 October, 6:30pm

Speakers including Paul Bridge (UCU), Andrew Murray (UNITE), Max Watson (UNISON NEC), Lorraine Monk (UCU NEC, FE), Ciara Doyle (DPAC) + more tbc
School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
Vernon Square Campus, Hall V211
Penton Rise, Kings Cross, London WC1X 9EW
Called by London Region UCU, supported by UNITE and UNISON


31st October Strike for fair pay (letter to all UNISON members in HE from Dave Prentis)

Dear Mr Watson

Higher education strike - 31 October 2013

You should now be aware that UNISON higher education (HE) members have voted by a clear majority to take strike action. Members in UCU and Unite have also voted to strike. 

This is in response to an inadequate 1% pay offer from the national HE employers. It falls well short of addressing years of below inflation increases, which have seen HE staff pay fall behind in real terms by over 13%. 

In comparison, pay awards are higher in other sectors of the economy: the average pay settlement in the UK is currently between 2-2.5% in not-for-profit and private sector organisations. Yet the HE employers refuse to negotiate a better national offer, despite our continued best efforts to persuade them. 

Universities are reporting record surpluses and are investing heavily in new buildings. Meanwhile, expenditure on staff pay has been falling, while vice-chancellors and other senior managers have shown little pay restraint, with over half of V-Cs now earning more than £242,000 a year. 

Yet many universities hold down the pay for their lowest paid workers. More than 4,000 HE staff are paid less than the Living Wage while heating and food bills rise rapidly. 

In addition HE jobs are being privatised, and there is a growing use of zero hour contracts, increasing the sense of job insecurity. 

Taking part in strike action on 31 October will send a message to the employers that they must stop their attempts to act like the worst private sector employers. Universities couldn't run without you and your colleagues and they rely on your dedication, flexibility and goodwill. 

I know that you have pride in the work you do and that for many of you the idea of taking action is a difficult one. However, unless we take a strong stand they will continue to take advantage of you and your colleagues. 

You deserve a better standard of living for your hard work and the contribution that you make to the success of UK universities. To achieve this you need to speak up and show the depth of feeling among staff that it is time for a fair pay settlement in higher education. 

I urge you to take action on 31 October and join with your fellow union members in UNISON, UCU and Unite to stand up to the employers and make clear what you are really worth. 

Yours sincerely

Dave Prentis, UNISON general secretary

Friday, 25 October 2013

Harrogate appeal for unity in action - UNISON Higher Ed left statement

UNISON members in Higher Education are on the verge of launching national industrial action on 31st October - the only service group in all of our union to do so - and the following left activists are making an Appeal for Solidarity:

We call on all trade unionists to throw their weight behind our upcoming strike. We've won a yes vote for strike action because we have pushed hard for it in our branches and at a national level; we've won elections to the HE SGE because we fought for a left voice to represent our members' needs; we were the only Service Group to oppose the Pensions sell out in 2012 because we worked together; we've won a yes vote because we've built an inclusive, non-sectarian, and vibrant left that talks openly with each other regardless of different political affiliations; we've got a vote for action because we've built a strong network of activists who are serious about standing up for our members and put that ahead of all other considerations.

We are left wing trade unionists of various stripes, currently on the front line in the struggle against neoliberalism, calling for a united fightback and for social justice - we are calling for unity in action now.

Without unity in action right now, we are doomed.  Please join our call, sign below, and attend our picket lines on 31st Oct and beyond: Solidarity forever!

Signed (in a personal capacity):

Linda Holden, HE SGE
Sarah Pickett, HE SGE
Molly Cooper, HE SGE

Kath Owen, HE SGE
Tomasa Bullen, NEC (HE)
Max Watson, NEC (HE)
Matt Raine, HE SGE
Andy Beech, HE SGE
Sandy Nicoll, HE SGE
Carole Hanson, Brighton Uni
Ivan Bonsell, Brighton Uni
Domenico Hill, Bristol Uni
Linda Myers, Manchester Met Uni
Sue Howarth, Manchester Met Uni
Rosina Morrison, Manchester Met. Uni
Andy Cunningham, Manchester Met Uni
Lucinda Wakefield, Sheffield Hallam Uni

Alex Tarry, London Met Uni
Eddie Rowley, London Met Uni
Claire Locke, London Met Uni
Kevin Ward, Middlesex Uni
Shona McCulloch, Leeds Met Uni
Angelique Bueler, Manchester Met Uni
Bernie Gallagher, (acting Branch Secretary) Bolton Uni and NEC
Simon Deville, Birkbeck 
Gyta Nicola, Institute of Education

To add your name use the comments facility below or email

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Three unions announce nationwide universities strike date

Three unions announce nationwide universities strike date

by  - 16th October 2013, 12.19 BST
strike_report1Universities across the UK will be brought to a standstill by strike action later this month unless a row over pay can be resolved in the next two weeks.
UCU, UNISON and Unite today announced their members working in higher education will walk out on Thursday 31 October in an increasingly bitter row over pay.
Staff have been offered a pay rise of just 1% this year, which means they have suffered a pay cut of 13% in real terms since October 2008. The squeeze on staff pay comes at a time when pay and benefits for university leaders increased, on average, by more than £5,000 in 2011-12, with the average pay and pensions package for vice-chancellors hitting almost £250,000.
UCU head of higher education Michael MacNeil, said: "Staff have suffered year-on-year cuts in the value of their pay. Quite simply, enough is enough. We urge the employers to reflect on the fact that they are about to face their first ever strike by three unions at the same time and come to the negotiating table to resolve this dispute.
"The suppression of academic pay is one of the most sustained pay cuts since the Second World War and, while strike action is always a last resort, the fact that staff are prepared to take this step demonstrates just how angry they are."
UNISON head of higher education Jon Richards, said: "Our members are upset and angry – this measly 1% offer is simply not good enough. The work of support staff is essential for the smooth running of universities and they play a vital role supporting students, but many are struggling to survive on low pay.
"The gap between prices and pay has widened since this government came to power and trying to feed a family and heat a home is a daily worry. The fact that staff are willing to take strike action shows how desperate they feel. The employers should take note and come back with a more realistic offer."
Unite national officer for education Mike McCartney said: "Our members have had enough of the poverty pay increases of recent years. They have suffered a 13 per cent real terms pay cut since 2008 and have been left with no option but to fight for what's fair.  There is still time for the employers to step back from the brink in this dispute. We urge them to get back around the negotiating table with the three unions to resolve it once and for all."

Monday, 14 October 2013

Why you should join us on the picket line – an open letter to university students (Mark Campbell, UCU)

Why you should join us on the picket line – an open letter to university students

Dear student,
It's increasingly likely that university staff (UCU, Unison, and hopefully Unite and EIS in Scotland) across the UK, will be out on strike in the next few weeks.
The headline issue of dispute between us and our employers is fair pay in HE. However, this is ultimately about an awful lot more than just a fair pay rise. It's also about ending the disgusting use of zero-hour contracts – rife at many universities, it's about ensuring a national Living Wage for all staff (in-house or sub-contracted), it's about challenging the gender pay gap in higher education. It's about fighting excessive workloads and bullying. And it's about stoping the increasing privatisation and commodification of UK higher education.
It's about saying it is outrageous that the average pay packet of a vice-chancellor is some £250,000 per year plus benefits whilst many workers in higher education struggle on less than a basic living wage of £8.55 per hour in London or £7.45 per hour outside of London.
It's about demanding that students have classes that are properly resourced with adequately paid, qualified, and motivated staff.
It's about ensuring students have enough fully resourced dedicated in-house support staff to sort out their needs in as timely and hassle-free manner as possible.
It's about students and education workers uniting together and saying it's time the bosses that benefit so much from a highly educated workforce are made to pay for it.
It's about saying – enough is enough. No more pay cuts, job cuts and course closures.
It's about saying these are public universities that belong to the staff that work in them, the students that study in them, and the community within which they are based. They don't belong to the vice-chancellors and executive groups that manage them.
It's about saying education should be free from the cradle to the grave and education staff need to be paid a decent wage – it's not an either/or!
It's about insisting that the money is there to enable Higher Education to be free for all students – paying for it by increasing Corporation Tax to at least the OECD average for large corporations.
It's essentially about saying universities are a public good and that students shouldn't be hit with huge fees and then pitted against overworked and underpaid staff.
We have stood with you against the increase in fees and the cutting of EMA and education provision and we will continue to do so.
We have marched with you in defence of education and against its privatisation and we will continue to do so.
We stand with you now against the threat to privatise the student loan book and we will always stand with you in solidarity when you are attacked for resisting government cutbacks.
Now we need you to stand with us in this fight for all of our futures.
Please join with us in solidarity.

You will be very much welcomed at our meetings and on our picket lines.
In solidarity,
Mark Campbell
London Metropolitan University UCU (Chair)
UCU National Executive Committee (pc)

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Higher education ballot result

UNISON has announced the result of its industrial action ballot in higher education.
The union, which represents support staff in higher education, balloted members on whether they were prepared to take strike action against the national employers' pay offer of just 1% for 2013-14.
UNISON had also asked the employers to guarantee that no worker in the sector would be paid below the living wage ( currently £8.55 in London and £7.55 outside London), but the employers failed to meet this demand.
The results of the ballot are:
  • 54.4% of those voting were in favour of taking strike action;
  • 45.6% of those voting were against taking strike action.
The higher education service group committee, the union's national committee for members in the sector, will consider next steps at a meeting on 14 October.
UNISON continues to work closely with the other unions in higher education, and those unions' ballot results will be taken into account when reaching any decision.