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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Edukshun Newz

by New Worker correspondent

BOTH north and south of the border many educational workers are revving up for industrial action. In England, following a collapse in pay talks Unite is balloting members on industrial action in a dispute over real-terms cuts in their pay and rising workloads.

The union stresses that workers have had a below the cost of living pay rise imposed on them, with management grumbling about a lack of funds whilst at the same time figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show that in 2017/18 income for all UK universities rose by approximately £2.5 billion.

Unite is demanding:

A survey of Unite members in the sector found that over 60 per cent said that their pay has not kept up with the cost of living and half are not satisfied with their current level of pay. Over 80 per cent reported that they regularly work beyond their contracted hours and over half have considered quitting their jobs over the last 12 months.

Unite Education national officer Siobhan Endean said: “Unite members who work in universities are preparing for the new academic year with the knowledge that they have yet again had a derisory pay increase imposed on them that falls well below the increase in the cost of living. Higher education staff work long hours and 70 per cent report that they suffer work-related stress. They provide much needed support to students, ensuring their accommodation, laboratories, libraries and lecture halls are safe, clean and ready for learning.

“It is clear that universities have suitable financial resources to invest in their staff but choose not to do so.”

Joining in are the higher education section of the Educational Institute for Scotland (EIS).

General Secretary Larry Flanagan noted: “Our members in the Higher Education sector have been subjected to a decade of deep real-terms pay cuts, now in excess of 20 per cent. The offer from University employers for the year 2019/2020, at 1.8 per cent amounts to yet another real-terms cut in lecturers’ pay.”

Reflecting the situation further south, he added “At the same time that pay has been cut, workload has increased which means that lecturers are continually being told to do more for less. It is now time for university lecturers to make a stand for fair pay.”

He deplored the fact that: “The reality is that Universities are choosing to invest in other areas — such as buildings — rather than in their staff.”

Urging a vote for action, Flanagan concluded by saying: “After nearly a decade of sub-inflationary pay settlements, the only avenue left open to us to secure a significant improvement in lecturers’ and academic related staff pay is through industrial action.”

The union helpfully noted that one group of workers are doing well: Principals’ salaries exceeded £4.8 million in Scotland in 2017/18, increasing by 11 per cent.

The response of the bosses, the Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association (UCEA), is to refuse to re-enter pay negotiations for the 2019—20 pay round and it has called on Higher Education Institutions to impose the meagre 1.8% pay offer.