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Pay Claim Consultation

The employers have made a “final” offer of a 1% pay rise from August 2015. UCU is conducting a consultative ballot of our membership to find out if we are willing to engage in industrial action to improve the offer. There is some further information here:

and the recommendation from the UCU HE Conference is that we should reject the offer. As I understand it, the core offer is a 1% pay rise. This roughly matches RPI inflation (1.1% in March) and might at first sight look reasonable. Changes to USS (up 0.5%) and NI (up 1.4% on roughly £40,000 of pay because of the end to the opting out discount) contributions mean that our take-home cash will actually be reduced. Allowing for inflation, the value of our pay would fall rather more than 1%.

Our recent industrial actions over pay and pensions have been to some extent successful. In both cases, the employers improved their offer once the action had started. I imagine that well-supported industrial action might improve this offer to maybe 2%, and allow us to stand still in real terms. Currently, the employers can afford it. And our VCs are seeing much larger pay rises.

There are a few extra features to the offer:

  • For most institutions, the lowest paid will receive an additional boost so they all earn a living wage. Not, however, Southampton as our lowest paid have to work a 36-hour week to earn what should be a 35-hour living wage.
  • The employers have backed away from insistence on performance-related pay. Incremental progression within a grade should continue to be routine.
  • The employers showed no enthusiasm for addressing the gender pay gap in the sector.

PLEASE, PLEASE DO VOTE IN THE BALLOT. It’s painless, and a low turnout would make us very weak in negotiations. Here at Southampton, the UCU Committee is unenthusiastic about most sorts of action short of a strike. Often, our management seems not to even notice we are doing it. Examination boycotts have been effective but, at any given time, the burden falls on a small fraction of our membership; boycotts also tend to upset students who should be our natural supporters.

For what it’s worth, I am going to vote for strike action but against action short of a strike.

PLEASE VOTE, BUT ONLY SUPPORT ASOS OR STRIKES IF YOU YOURSELF ARE ACTUALLY GOING TO TAKE PART IF CALLED UPON. We cannot win an industrial action without solid support; voting for action which we do not deliver would just make us look weak. The employers would laugh at us. And next year’s offer would be even worse.

If you are having trouble finding your ballot Email, it looked like this

Date: Thu, 11 Jun 2015 11:29:59 -0400
From: “University and College Union (UCU)” <reply@ucu.org.uk>
To: dan@ecs.soton.ac.uk
Subject: UCU consultative ballot: higher education (HE) employers’ final offer 2015-16

and the voting link was at the bottom of quite a long message. Several members have reported that their Email system incorrectly marked it as spam.

Denis Nicole

Branch President

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