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Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Solidarity with Higher education staff on strike today for fair pay

Today see's another nationwide strike in Higher education and momentum is growing with greater support and more student occupations this time too could the student movement be making a comeback in support of their lectures ? With Exeter, Sheffield, Goldsmiths, Sussex, Ulster, Edinburgh and Birmingham all occupied in support of fair play in HE we can be Proud of students right now Tens of thousands of university teachers and support staff are expected to walk out for a second day today in an increasingly bitter pay row. Unions say they have “bent over backwards” to prevent the dispute from escalating, but they say employers have refused to increase a “miserly” pay offer. Officials say the proposed 1% increase would see university workers receiving a fifth consecutive pay award below the cost of living. They estimate the value of some staff salaries has been eroded by 14% in that time. Today’s action will involve members from UNISON, UCU, Unite and EIS. UNISON general secretary, Dave Prentis, said: “The decision to take action so close to Christmas shows the depth of feeling that this issue has caused. “It is a disgrace that universities are sitting on cash surpluses worth £2bn, but they are not prepared to reward their staff who are the backbone of our world class university system. “The employers’ imposed payment of 1% does not address the increasing cost of living for staff who face rising energy costs and increasing food bills, and does little for the 4,000 staff working in universities who earn less than the living wage. “A fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay, and higher education workers deserve a better standard of living in return for their hard work and the contribution they make to the success of UK universities.” Unions say terms and conditions amongst higher education workers are being eroded while job insecurity is increasing, with greater use of zero hour contracts and an increase in the gender pay gap. The median salary of vice chancellors is £242,000, with the highest paid employee in higher education receiving more than £500,000. However, workers at the bottom end of the pay scale earn just £13,486. Unions say they have attended a series of negotiations, including at the conciliation service Acas, to try to resolve the dispute. EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “Strike action is always the last resort for any trade union – but it is the point at which we have reached in the pay dispute with the University Employers’ Association. “The employers do not seem to understand the effect that four years of sub-inflationary pay rises have on their staff. “Members literally cannot afford to go on like this, and that is why we have joined our three sister unions and colleagues in taking concerted action to pursue our claim for fair pay. “The sector is financially healthy, with an increasing number of senior staff on salaries of over £100K a year with ever-increasing principals’ salaries – we ask the employers to fairly share the fruits of the HE sector staff hard work.” So remember if your near a picket line or have a lecture today do not reschedule the lecture respect the picket line and give support to those out on strike if you can. This strike cannot be effective if a picket line is crossed. Best of luck

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