In UK, University Staff Strikes Over 1% Pay Raise

In the United Kingdom, lecturers and support staff at many universities went on a one-day strike against what they see as an insufficient pay raise. Members of the University and College Union (UCU), Unison and Unite are protesting over a 1% pay increase for 2013-14, and unions said there is “strong support for the action” and that 149 institutions are affected.

On October 31st, the unions’ members rallied in many cities over pay. Unions’ members have rejected a 1% pay offer and said that pay has failed to keep up with rising living costs. The one-day strike could cancel some classes and facilities could be closed, could be cancelled and facilities closed, reports BBC News.

University employers say that support for the strike is “not widespread” and disruption has been “minimal”. The employers also say that the “vast majority” of staff think the offer is fair.

Some buildings and departments – including many libraries – were closed, according to the University and College Union (UCU). Teaching at Liverpool John Moores University and Liverpool Hope University was cancelled and the chemistry department at Loughborough also closed.

According to the unions, a pay offer of 1% represents a 13% pay cut in real terms since 2009. They said universities will face the “most widespread disruption for years.”

UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt said: “Staff, from porters to professors have walked out this morning in protest at some of the most sustained pay cuts since the Second World War.

“Nobody wants to be on strike, but a 13% real-terms pay cut as vice-chancellors’ pay continued to increase and universities’ surpluses built up simply is not fair.”

Hunt said they had heard of closed departments and buildings and that some universities had cancelled all teaching for the day. “If the employers try to spin the action as having little impact then it merely shows how out of touch they are with what is really happening on the ground at universities.”

In the UCU strike ballot, there was a 35% turnout, with 62% voting in favour of strike action.

Universities had warned students some classes might be cancelled and that some facilities could be closed. Helen Fairfoul, chief executive of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), said that fewer than 5% of the higher education workforce had chosen to vote for strike action.

“We can see the strike is not widely supported,” Helen Fairfoul said. “The vast majority of staff thinks this is a fair offer. This is a difficult period. No pay levels in any sector have kept pace with inflation.”

Helen Fairfoul also said that salary costs in most institutions would actually rise by about 3% this year because some staff would get incremental increases and merit awards as well as the 1% increase.

“We are disappointed that the unions have decided in favour of industrial action. Students have the right to expect that their learning will not be disrupted by such action,” a spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said.