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Pay Claims

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)” <>
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

University of Southampton refuses requests for information on V-C pay and perks

Colleagues may be interested to read this press release that was issued by UCU on 4 March 2015


The University of Southampton has refused to answer basic questions about its vice-chancellor’s pay and perks, according to a new report released today (Wednesday).

The University and College Union (UCU) issued a series of FOI requests in order to try and learn more about the shadowy world of senior pay and perks in UK universities. The union contacted 155 institutions and the University of Southampton was one of only seven that didn’t respond*.

However, the university’s accounts show that Professor Don Nutbeam was the 23rd most highly paid UK university vice-chancellor in 2013/14. He received £320,000, which put him comfortably above the average vice-chancellor’s pay of £260,290.

The union’s report detailed university bosses spending up to £60,000 a year on luxury air fares and heads of institutions racking up hefty hotel bills and annual expenses. But no expenditure figures were received from the University of Southampton.

In an attempt to obtain more details of the rationale for senior salaries, UCU also requested a copy of the most recently ratified minutes of the remuneration committee – the committee tasked with determining the pay of the vice-chancellor. The University of Southampton also failed to provide a copy of its remuneration committee minutes.

UCU regional official, Moray McAulay, said: ‘The University of Southampton is one of only a few universities in the UK that did not provide any of the information we requested making it one of our most secretive. You do have to wonder what it is they want to hide.

‘Overall, it’s a chaotic state of affairs where some institutions are open and honest while others use whatever means they can to avoid revealing information of spending at the top. We need a national system that will bring in obligations for higher education institutions to be transparent about their spending.’ 


 Local contact:

Moray McAulay m: 07766 251 863; e:

National UCU contact:

Vicky Wilks t: 020 7756 2601; m: 07977 562 686; e:  


Southampton UCU General meeting – 1pm Weds 26 March, room 27/2003

The next UCU General meeting is taking place on Wednesday 26 March from 1.00pm – 2.30pm in room 27/2003.  The main topic of the meeting will be the upcoming marking boycott and we shall be joined by Terry Hoad, UCU HE committee member.  We would encourage you to come along and share your views with us.

Living Wage – the University’s recent statement on SUSSED

Dear colleagues

Earlier today you may have seen a statement issued by the University regarding recent negotiations on the Living Wage at the University of Southampton.

We at UCU, UNISON and Unite wish to make clear that we in no way endorse this statement, and further, we believe that this statement thoroughly misrepresents the facts.  The issue of the Living Wage was first brought to the University’s attention at the Joint Negotiating Committee on 18 October 2013, following an initial FOI request sent by Southampton Living Wage Campaign on 13 August 2013.  A paper was presented on this issue at the JNC which was fully endorsed by all three unions.

At this initial JNC discussion the University responded that they would re-evaluate their position on the Living Wage only after the resolution of the 2013/2014 pay claim.  In the months since, all three unions have consistently and visibly campaigned on the Living Wage and fair pay for the lowest-paid University staff, and it is only after these months of campaigning that the University has put forward this Living Wage supplement.

Throughout this dispute, all three union branches at this University have continued to negotiate on local issues, and at no point have we ceased cooperation due to the current national situation.  The University, in contrast, has repeatedly refused to negotiate formally on local concerns for the duration of the dispute, and has told us that they have no plans to strive to be a true Living Wage Employer.

The current statement on SUSSED does not acknowledge the contribution of unions and their members at this University in bringing this issue to the fore, nor does it accept responsibility for the University’s own refusals to engage on this and other issues for the duration of the current pay dispute.

UCU, UNISON and Unite at the University of Southampton

Day of Action – 6 February 2014

On Thursday 6 February 2014, Southampton UCU, UNISON and Unite members joined colleagues across the UK in taking strike action for fair pay in UK higher education.  EIS in Scotland also participated in this joint industrial action.

Southampton University staff braved the monsoon-like weather to stand on picket lines throughout Highfield and Avenue campuses and disseminate flyers informing students and passersby about the current pay dispute.  Members also solicited signatures on a petition which is drawing attention to the issue of skyrocketing senior management pay in universities and the growing wage inequality in the sector generally.

At 11AM members gathered outside Building 37, the home of University management.  Malcolm Ace (Chief Operating Officer), Professor Adam Wheeler (Provost), and Janice Donaldson (Director of HR) come out to talk with strikers about the pay issue and listen to their concerns.  Afterward there was a brief rally before strikers were urged to make their way home, dry out and warm up!

Thanks to all who came out to join us despite the weather.  UCU will be taking further strike action for two hours on Monday from 9-11AM; please come and show your support.

Strikers outside B37

Strikers outside B37

Gathering to hear some speakers

Gathering to hear some speakers

Malcolm Ace (Chief Operating Officer) comes out to speak with strikers

Malcolm Ace (Chief Operating Officer) comes out to speak with strikers

Spirits were high despite the downpour!

Spirits were high despite the downpour!


Eric Silverman

Southampton UCU President


IMPORTANT: Information on strike action Thursday 6 Feb and feedback from 28 Jan


Firstly a big thank you to all of you who supported the second 2-hour walk-out on Tuesday afternoon.  It was a great day of action with around 50 members occupying the Arlott Bar for a teach-in.  Members joined in lively discussions on various important issues in higher education, including recruitment and retention at the University and concerns for the future of HE, and we rounded the strike off with a tribute to folk singer and activist Pete Seegar with a rendition of “Union Maid”.   Many of you who weren’t able to attend the teach-in withdrew your labour by cancelling classes and meetings and just absenting yourselves from your workplaces – we would ask that you help us show what impact the action is having by completing this very short survey:

A reminder that the next 2-hour walk-out is planned for Monday 10 February from 9.00 – 11.00 am.  Further details on this to follow.


Secondly you will all be aware of the next full day of strike action planned for Thursday 6 February.  This involves all three campus trade unions – UCU, UNISON and Unite – as well as the Scottish union EIS.  We are currently planning our joint local strategy and will be meeting with sister unions later this week.  Once we have firm plans in place we will send these out to you.  In the meantime we would ask you to:

Publicise the Pay Campaign as widely as possible within your department/academic unit by printing out and displaying the attached posters/leaflets.  These are intended to get students and non-members thinking about the action, so the more people that see these, the better.

*Poster 1

*Poster 2

*Leaflet 1:

*Leaflet 2:

Talk to students and colleagues about the action and explain why you are taking part.

Sign the online petition calling for University management to urge UCEA to return to the negotiating table

We are aware that University management are continuing to send out Faculty-wide emails asking that “union members who intend to take strike action inform their line manager by email or writing as soon as possible”.  We would reiterate that you do NOT have to alert your line manager about your decision to take strike action in advance.  When asked afterwards, however, you MUST answer truthfully.  See UCU strike FAQs here:


 Thirdly, as part of the ongoing dispute, we would like to remind members that we are still working to contract – further information on what this means and how you can support this action can be found here:

Thanks for your continued support

Southampton UCU

Two-hour strike on 23 January

Southampton UCU members participated in the first of three two-hour strikes in support of fair pay in higher education.  We saw strong turnout and media interest, with stories appearing in the Daily Echo, BBC South Today, and the Morning Star, along with local websites like and others.

Members picketed Building 37, the home of University senior management, to express our discontent at the increasing wage gap between top earners at the University and academic staff.  Vice-Chancellor Don Nutbeam spoke to strikers about the pay issue, and members challenged him very robustly on issues ranging from zero-hours contracts and the living wage campaign, to the broader national issue of the 2013 pay claim.

The next two-hour strike will take place from 2-4PM on 28 January, with another to follow on 10 February.  A day of joint union strike action on 6 February will incorporate all three on-campus trade unions (UCU, UNISON and Unite).

Some pictures of the events yesterday:

Southampton UCU gathering in the Piazza

Southampton UCU gathering in the Piazza

Preparing to move to Building 37

Preparing to move to Building 37


Picketing Building 37

Picketing Building 37

Coverage on BBC South Today

Coverage on BBC South Today


Members debating the issues with Vice-Chancellor Don Nutbeam

Members debating the issues with Vice-Chancellor Don Nutbeam


Eric Silverma

Southampton UCU President

Information for Thursday’s action

Dear members,

A reminder that we are taking industrial action on Thursday 23 January between 11am and 1pm in support of the campaign for Fair Pay in HE.  ALL MEMBERS should withdraw their labour between these hours.

We will be gathering at the UCU office at 47 University Road promptly at 11AM.  Please join us to show your support for the campaign.  We have placards, flyers and other materials for distribution on the day.  

As this is a new form of action for us, UCU has prepared a useful FAQ on the website.  The document summarises various useful points about this type of action, so please have a read:

We’ve also produced a series of posters and information sheets and would ask that you print these out and display in your department/academic unit.

*Poster 1
*Poster 2
*Leaflet 1:
*Leaflet 2:

On Thursday please do the following:

  • Set up an out of office message during the 2 hour strike.  Something like this  – “I am currently taking industrial action in support ofUCU’s campaign for Fair Pay in HE and not able to deal with your email.  I will be back at my desk after the action concludes.”
  • Print out the  “On strike desk poster” (sent to you by email) and pin on your door/computer/workstation which states that you are currently on strike.
  • Come along to the picket lines.

 Throughout the upcoming period of action please do the following:

  •  Talk to students and colleagues about the action and explain why you are taking part.
  •  If you have ideas for future actions or would like to get more involved, tell us!
  • Please distribute our new joint trade union newsletter, Southampton Solidarity (sent to you via email), to your students and colleagues

Further points of clarification:

  • Members at Avenue, NOCS and other University sites, please come join us at Highfield!  This action should be a good opportunity for us to convene in one place, discuss issues facing staff at the University and plan for our next action.
  • Contrary to what you may have heard elsewhere, remember that you are NOT under any obligation to tell your line manager about your decision to participate in the strike action prior to the action itself.  You must respond truthfully if and only if you are asked afterward.


Eric Silverman
Southampton UCU President

The Vice-Chancellor’s Pay Rise

The University quietly announced yesterday that Vice-Chancellor Don Nutbeam has accepted a £17,000 pay rise, taking his salary up to £294,000. He has also had £39,000 paid into his pension pot by the University.

Following the strike action, the Vice-Chancellor told us that there was no chance of any movement on the 1% pay offer, as the University is not in a sustainable financial position.  As we can see from this 6% pay rise, and the jump from 64 people on £100k+ in 2011 to 299 people in 2012, there is certainly money around — but apparently only for those on the top of the scale.

Meanwhile, staff are expected to cope with yet another real-terms pay cut, 140 staff at the university earn less than the living wage, and 198 of our lecturers are on zero-hours contracts. For our many colleagues who earn less than £17,000 in an entire year, seeing the Vice-Chancellor accepting this pay rise is simply insulting.

Our union’s demands are reasonable and proportionate — as outlined in the initial pay claim, we want our pay to go up in line with prices, action to address the gender pay gap, progress on disability leave and living wages on campus. Doing these things would make our universities more supportive and equitable places to work.  We suggest that if the University can afford to pay the VC twice the salary of the Prime Minister, it can afford to pay a decent wage to the staff that actually keep the university running every day.

Your support so far has been brilliant, with over 200 of us at the rally on the 3rd, and many more taking part in the strike. It’s vital that we continue to work together, and with our colleagues in UNISON and Unite to demand fair pay on campus.

If you think pay rises shouldn’t just be for Don Nutbeam, then please do the following:

Email the Southampton UCU office letting us know why you think this is unacceptable

Speak to your colleagues, inform them of this and encourage them to join the union if they haven’t already done so

Email University senior management and ask them to justify this pay increase, when they are telling staff they can’t afford fair pay on campus.


Eric Silverman

Southampton UCU President

Strike action feedback

Dear members,

Yesterday’s strike action was a rousing success!  We had great support on the picket lines, covering all the most important and visible locations both at Highfield and Avenue Campuses, and our colleagues at UNISON and Unite greatly increased our visibility and impact.

At Highfield, the campus was extremely quiet, with very few students or staff coming in; notably, the car parks had many empty spaces and the bus interchange was largely empty.  At Avenue, the entire campus was largely vacant, and all entrances were covered by pickets.  At both campuses we distributed leaflets about the pay campaign and issues affecting members of staff across the whole University community, and we also distributed our own take on Vice-Chancellor Nutbeam’s Personal Performance and Development Review.  We had supportive responses from many passers-by, both students and staff, and many signatures were added to our petition for fair pay in higher education.

Following the pickets in the morning, we held a rally outside the Piazza, where we estimate more than 200 people turned up to hear our speakers.  We started off with our own UCU choir leading the crowd in our Fair Pay in HE remix of The Twelve Days of Christmas.  For those of who you missed out, we’ve posted the lyrics on our blog here:

Barry Lovejoy, Head of Regional Organisations and Nations for UCU, came to speak to attendees about the pay issue, along with regional officials from UNISON and Unite, and colleagues from both Southampton Solent and Winchester University.  We also had significant press interest, with three separate camera crews filming the rally, and interviewers from various local and national press outlets circulating throughout the day.

All in all we were very pleased with the level of support and activity on the day.  To all of you who supported our action, THANK YOU!  

To keep the pressure on our employers, UCU is gathering information nationwide about activities which were canceled due to the strike action.  With that in mind, please let us know how YOU supported the action – cancelling lectures or seminars, avoiding meetings or other commitments on the day, joining the picket lines, etc.  We will take this information and send it to the national campaigns team to help counter the claims from UCEA that this day of action was not well-supported!

Also, please remember that we are still working to contract in support of the pay campaign.  Please take a look at the very detailed guidance on the main UCU website here:

We will keep in touch with you about future developments on the fair pay campaign, including updates on related issues both local and national.

In solidarity,

Eric Silverman

Southampton UCU President