Hardline bosses at cash rich universities are blamed by Unite, the country’s largest union, for failing to reach a fair settlement before a second day of strike action at UK universities on Tuesday (3 December).
Despite talks under the auspices of the conciliation service, Acas, the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) refused to budge, so Unite’s members in higher education will be joining Unison, the University and College Union (UCU) and the Scottish education union, the EIS for a one day strike on Tuesday.
Unite contrasts the five year pay drought which its members have endured, resulting in a 13 per cut in pay in real terms since 2008, with the lavish remuneration packages – averaging just under £250,000 a year – that the UK’s vice chancellors enjoy.
Unite national officer for education Mike McCartney said that the one per cent pay offer on the table for 2013/14 was “completely unacceptable”, given that the cumulative operating surplus in the higher education sector was now over £1 billion.
Mike McCartney said: “We had a very successful one day strike on 31 October when our members were heartened by the strong support from other staff, students and members of the public.
“The intransigence of the employers, who are sitting on a cash mountain of £1 billion, has not moved us forward. No new offer, other than the existing one per cent, leaves the higher education unions with no choice, but to take further strike action on 3 December.
“The unions are at a loss as to why the meeting under Acas’ watchful eye went ahead with nothing extra being put on the table – it makes a mockery of the concept of negotiation.
“It should be not be forgotten that it is the hard work of higher education staff that keeps Britain in the top ten of the world’s universities.
“While highly paid vice chancellors travel the world, in some style, drumming up student numbers, it is our members that underpin the whole higher education system.”
Unite’s membership embraces technicians, laboratory assistants, administrators and facilities management staff. The union has about 20,000 members in higher education.