Unite says staff from professors to porters could take action within a month, after a 63.3% vote to strike over 1% pay rise


A threat of industrial action over below-inflation pay in colleges and universities has escalated, after Unite members voted to strike.

It comes less than 24 hours after FE college lecturers in Scotland announced industrial action beginning on 23 October.

Unite says staff from professors to porters could take action within a month, after a 63.3% vote to strike in a dispute over a pay offer of just 1%.

Officials estimate that the lowest-paid college and university staff, including cleaners and catering staff, have suffered a 10% real-terms pay cut, as salaries have fallen behind inflation.

Negotiators say that during talks, the University and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) also refused to guarantee that no worker in the higher education sector would be paid below the Living Wage (£8.30 in London and £7.20 outside London).

Mike Robinson, Unite national officer, said: “For four years, workers in higher education institutions have been left to struggle on below inflation pay rises, while more senior staff have received better deals.

“Unite will continue to work closely with the other unions in higher education to consider next steps.

“This is a fight for fairness.

“University bosses need to get their heads out of the sand and listen to the concerns of workers who are struggling to get by.

“There is money in the pot – the sector can easily afford to end the misery of thousands of workers, it’s time to do it.”

The union says senior reps and officials will consider their next steps ‘shortly’.

Other unions in the sector, such as UNISON – which represents administration, technical and other staff – have voted to support strike action. However, the UCU has narrowly rejected calls for a national strike,  with 55.7% against a walk-out and 44.3% in favour.

It is understood UCU officials and reps are meeting today to discuss possible participation in the joint national day of action planned for 23 October.

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