UCU confirmed on 17th September that it will ballot its members working in universities, later this month. The union highlighted its members in higher education have not received a meaningful pay increase since October 2008. Since 2009, they have suffered four consecutive years of pay cuts and seen their pay drop by 13% in real terms.
The squeeze on staff pay comes at a time when the cumulative operating surplus in the sector was over £1 billion, while many higher education institutions have built up cash reserves, and overall student numbers have held up in the face of higher tuition fees. Overall staff costs in higher education as a proportion of income have fallen from 58% in 2001/02, to 55.5% in 2011/12, although a minority at the top have enjoyed generous increases.
As part of its pay claim, UCU called on the employers to address other problematic areas including disability leave, the gender pay gap, increased workloads, and the increasing use of zero-hour contracts, but was stone-walled.
UCU head of higher education, Michael MacNeil, said: ‘What is very clear is that the employers can afford to pay their staff more than the miserly 1% on the table but they are making a calculated choice not to.
’Those in charge are cynically using a more competitive funding environment to justify driving down terms and conditions and pay for the majority of staff. At a time when staff have been under great pressure to improve the student experience and workloads have increased, they have had their pay held down.’
UCU’s ballot will open on Wednesday 25 September and close on 10 October.
A ‘yes’ vote would result in industrial action during the autumn term. UNISON and UNITE are also balloting for strike action.
Said local President Douglas Chalmers: “We will be campaigning hard for a yes vote at GCU. We have tremendously hard working staff here – who have suffered a real decline in their take home pay. Staff in HE are professionals who deserve professional salaries”