On Friday 24th June, Warwick UCU setup their stand at the entrance to the University of Warwick. This coincided with the University Open Day and was a great opportunity for Union members to speak to prospective students and their families.
There was a great deal of interest from our visitors, and there were some lively and positive discussions around casualisation, pay and the gender pay gap.
People played the ‘gender game’ where they guessed the pay gap and then tried to throw a ball into the correct pot.
We were joined by comrades from Coventry University and Birmingham University for speeches and a photo.
Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at the University of Warwick will be on strike on Friday (24 June) as part of a wave of nationwide strikes in a row over pay and conditions.
Staff at the university have timed their action to coincide with an open day for prospective students and their parents. Union members will lobby students and parents as they arrive to explain more about their campaign for fair pay and better conditions.
Striking staff will be on picket lines outside the Bus Interchange on Gibbet Hill Road between 11.30am-2pm.
The dispute has arisen following a pay offer of just 1.1% from the universities’ employers, the Universities and Colleges Employers Association. UCU said universities can afford to pay more and the offer did little to address the real-terms pay cut of 14.5% that members have suffered since 2009.
The squeeze on staff salaries comes despite vice-chancellors enjoying a 6.1% pay hike. The union has also called for universities to commit to closing the gender pay gap and reducing the proportion of staff on casual and zero-hours contracts. On average, female academics are paid £6,103 less a year than their male counterparts, while 49% of university teachers are on insecure contracts. At Warwick, in 2013/14, the gender pay gap for academic staff was £11,331.
Since 2010 the amount spent on staff by universities as a percentage of total income has dropped by 3%. However, the total of cash reserves has rocketed by 72% to stand at over £21bn. The nationwide strikes over pay began with two national strike days in May and now UCU members at separate institutions are striking to disrupt local events such as open days and graduation ceremonies. More details are available here and via the Twitter hashtag #FairpayinHE.
Warwick UCU branch president, Justine Mercer, said: ‘We want to use this opportunity to tell prospective students and their parents more about the changing nature of higher education, emphasising that our working conditions are students’ learning conditions.
‘Our targeted strike action is a result of the employers’ failure to deal with the declining real-terms pay of university staff or tackle the problems of growing numbers of zero-hours contracts and the persistent gender pay gap. Members have been left with no alternative but to take this action.’
A letter has been published in the Guardian from a group of senior academics explaining why they are supporting UCU’s call to resign as external examiners and not take up new posts in order to support fair pay in higher education.
You can read the full letter and see the signatories here.
“We write as external examiners whose role is to assure the quality of higher education courses at universities and colleges across the UK, but who have decided to resign in order to support the campaign for fair pay in our sector. We have resigned because, while as senior academics we believe our role in underpinning the quality of education provided to students is vital, we are all too aware of the unfairness of the current pay policies of our universities and their impact on staff and their students.
We have watched with sadness the pay of academic and professional staff fall in real terms by 14.5% since 2009; we have seen the numbers of casual staff proliferate; and seen universities do little or nothing to reduce the shocking gender pay gap despite having a collective surplus of £1.85bn. Yet the final straw for many of us is the contention by our employers that the latest final pay offer of 1.1% is “at the limits of what can be afforded” when at the same time we discover that university leaders have themselves received an average pay increase of 6.1%. The blatant hypocrisy of this position is breathtaking.”
Staff and students at the entrance to the University of Warwick this morning. Solidarity in the face of year after year of effective pay cuts, growing casualisation and a worsening gender pay gap in Higher Education.
Coventry UCU 11am The Quadrant
Socialist Collective 12midday Birmingham Uni Chaplaincy
Events tomorrow :
West Midlands Regional UCU 12midday The Irish Centre Birmingham
UCU negotiators met with the University and College Employer Association (UCEA) this week in the hope of finding a solution to the current dispute amidst growing anger over news that vice-chancellor pay rose by 6.1% last year. Regrettably UCEA made no improvement on the 1.1% pay offer to staff or on measures to address gender inequality and insecure contracts and the strike action will continue on Wednesday and Thursday next week as planned.
Please join picket lines and support the strike action:
‘Rate for the job’ is UCU’s new online tool to enable you to find out more about your pay. Create a report based on your own salary. Compared with other staff in your institution and other workplaces. Find the best payer.
And find out how much pay you have lost in recent years due to low settlements.
To get the most from this tool, you will need your membership number. If you do not have this please contact us and we can find it for you.
Non-members should head to the ‘lite’ version of the tool here.
Trade dispute between UCU and employers concerning the 2016/17 claim regarding pay and terms and conditions
The ballot closed at noon on 4th May 2016. The response to the question you were balloted on is as follows:
Are you prepared to take industrial action consisting of strike action?
Number of ballot papers returned: 21,141
Number voting YES: 13,775 (65.4%)
Number voting NO: 7,292 (34.6%)
Number of papers found to be invalid: 74
Are you prepared to take industrial action consisting of action short of a strike?
Number of ballot papers returned: 21,141
Number voting YES: 16,270 (77.3%)
Number voting NO: 4,770 (22.7%)
Number of papers found to be invalid: 101
You can view the full scrutineer’s report here.
UCU News https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/8205/UCU-members-in-higher-education-vote-for-strike-action-in-national-row-over-pay
Across the entire HE sector, people like you are being underpaid, made to work under unfair conditions and discriminated against, while vice-chancellors, principals and other top staff are earning almost SEVEN times as much as the average worker.
- UNFAIR LOWER PAY: YOUR pay has decreased by 14.5% in just six years compared to the rate of inflation – while the cost of living keeps rising
- SHAMEFUL GENDER INEQUALITY: female academics are paid £6,103 per year LESS than male counterparts
- SCANDALOUS CASUALISED WORK: more than 21,000 teaching staff are on zero-hours contracts
- NO JOB SECURITY: over TWO THIRDS of research staff are stuck on fixed-term contracts.
What can I do about it?
First of all – make sure you VOTE before 4 May.
Please ensure that you complete and return your ballot paper as soon as possible.