25 September 2018

A pay campaign that we can win

UCU members in 110 Universities and 147 colleges are being balloted over pay in England and Wales. The ballot was launched 3 weeks ago and closes on the 19th October.

In HE UCU’s demands is for a 7.5% increase and a gender pay demand. In FE it is for a 5% increase.

Lecturers’ in FE have suffered a pay cut of 24% in the last eight years. Alongside this pay cut 24,000 jobs have gone whilst student’s numbers remain more or less the same.

Similarly, in HE the pay settlement in 2017/18 for the majority of HE staff was yet another below inflation uplift. This is against a backdrop of staff reporting ever increasing workloads, increasing casualisation and working hours and increased work-related stress.

The issues of casualisation and the widening gap between women’s and men’s pay in the sectors are ones that drive this year’s campaign.

The money is there we want our share

Staff in both sectors are increasingly frustrated and angered by employers insisting that they cannot afford a pay rise that begins to turn round the years of pay cuts. Staff have seen Vice – Chancellors, principals and CEOs award themselves salaries up to £400,000 a year whilst offering another pay cut for them.

In FE last year a third of principals’ awarded themselves a 10% pay rise whilst over 40% of colleges did not even implement the AoC, the national employers body, 1% recommendation.

In 2016/17 UK universities reported a record surplus of £2.27 billion and in 2015/16 the surplus was £2.34 billion.

Clearly the money is there to pay a decent award this year. No longer do staff accept the employer’s narrative that they can’t afford to pay up.

OF course the government are responsible for the cuts in the sectors and we need to continue to campaign for more funding. This is why UCU have joined with other college unions and the AoC to march and lobby Parliament on Wednesday 17th October.

Turn the tide on pay retreat

We have the best opportunity for over a decade to win a significant increase over pay. This year’s campaign comes on the back of the 14 days of escalating strike action in HE in defence of pensions and 8 days of escalating strike action by twelve colleges in FE.

Both campaigns secured significant wins for staff in the sectors. In FE deals were struck over pay, casualisation and better terms and conditions at most of the 12 colleges that took action.

The impact of these campaigns is still being felt in the sectors. In FE the largest employer, the Newcastle College Group agreed a deal which moves all its staff on casual contracts to permanent ones.

Also this month saw in HE the findings of a joint expert panel made up of employers and academics, set up in the aftermath of the pensions dispute, concede that there is no deficit in the pension scheme, something that was at the heart of the dispute at the beginning of the year.

We are in a great position to turn the tide of wage restraint in both sectors. We need to redouble our efforts in the next three weeks to ensure that we once again beat the Tory union thresholds.

Nita Sanghera UCU Vice – President and Chair of the Further Education Committee.

Sean Vernell, UCU Vice – Chair of the Further Education Committee.



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