Spirits high on day three of our Industrial Action

The local Public Service Union PCS were a welcome addition to today’s picket line with Lindsay Morgan and Magnus Hughson bringing along their local banner.

And from early on we also had the welcome support from the newly formed Student support network who distributed the excellent GCU students support the strikers leaflet.

The facts of the strike remain unchanged – UCEA, the University and College Employers Association have refused to shift on their below RPI inflation salary offer of 1.8 Percent, and no real shift towards eliminating casualised work, zero hours, or ending the gender pay gap.

Here are some of the key priorities our negotiators have set out and which employers still refuse to incorporate into their offer to us: 

  • on pay, our negotiators have indicated that they are open to an offer that falls between the employer offer of 1.8% and our original demand of 3% plus RPI (5.2% as of December).
  • all institutional action plans on job security, equality and workload should be implemented by working groups with clear deadlines
  • all action plans should be implemented in collaboration with recognised trade unions
  • all action plans should be publicly available
  • unions should be given more detailed, reliable information on equality, workload and job security than employers currently provide via the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and other outlets.

Alongside these there are extra targets on workload and job security in particular which our employers still refuse to meet.

On workload:

  • workload models need to be realistic, accurate, comprehensive reflections of the hours which staff actually work
  • staff should not be assigned more work than their annual workload quota permits
  • institutions should provide campus unions with data on staff reporting to occupational health for workload-related reasons.

On job security: 

  • employers should commit to abolish zero-hours contracts. Most employers do not use them and other countries (e.g. Ireland) have effectively banned them
  • procedures for converting fixed-term staff to open-ended employment should be faster than the statutory minimum of 4 years
  • there should be clearer and firmer criteria for conversion of hourly paid staff to fractional contracts.

Employers could resolve this dispute now and it would cost them hardly anything. In fact, many of the things we are asking for could save them money over time. It is a tragedy for the sector that they are permitting the largest strike in its history to continue. The blame lies solely with them – do not let anyone tell you otherwise.

 

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