Members of the University and College Union have launched a two-day strike across the UK in response to falling salaries and precarious contracts after the employers’ final offer was viewed as “an insult.”
The 48-hour walkout comes after the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) made what it referred to as a “final offer” of a 1.1 percent salary increase. The University and College Union (UCU) say the deal does not come close to declining staff pay, which in real terms has dropped by 14.5 percent over the past seven years. The union has also pointed out that the offer pales in comparison to the 5.1 percent increase offered to university vice-chancellors.
Gender pay gap and precarious contracts
Beyond the overall salary increase two major issues are at stake for the UCU members: gender pay inequality and casualised contracts. On average, female staff continue to earn 12.6 percent less than their male colleagues. Also across the UK insecure employment is also a growing problem. There are currently 75,000 university staff working on unguaranteed contracts.
“Members have made it clear that they won’t tolerate a continued squeeze on their income, pay inequality and the increasing job insecurity blighting the sector,” said UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt. “It’s time to invest properly in the teachers, researchers and administrators who are the backbone of our universities. Industrial action which impacts on students is never taken lightly, but members feel that they have been left with no alternative.”
Rallies are being planned for 26 May in 13 cities, including Belfast, Cambridge, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield and London.