Message from Sally Hunt – 2016/17 Pay Claim

Dear colleague,

I am writing to tell you that following an unacceptable response to our 2016 pay claim the union is now balloting HE members for industrial action. Ballot papers will be posted on 14 April. The ballot will close on 4 May 2016.

What was the union’s claim?

This year the union submitted a claim which highlighted the 14.5% real terms loss in the value of your salary compared to inflation since 2009 as a result of successive low pay offers, and also sought action at last from the employers to tackle casualisation and the gender pay gap.

How did the employers respond?

In response, the employers’ association UCEA have made an offer to increase salaries by 1%. This compares to latest increases reported for vice-chancellors and principals of 3%, bringing their average pay to £272k.

How can I check how much value my salary has lost in recent years?

So far 33,000 UCU members have worked out how much their salary would be if it had kept pace with inflation since 2009 using our ‘Rate for the Job’ tool. The average loss in salary value per member who has used Rate for the Job is £6,090. Check your real terms loss in pay here.

I support the campaign for better pay, do I still need to vote?

If you support the campaign for better pay, please vote for it. Every single vote in the ballot strengthens your negotiators’ position so please do not leave it to others to stand up for better pay.

If the ballot is in favour of industrial action, what happens next?

I hope that the employers will respond to the strength of feeling among staff and make an offer which genuinely addresses our pay claim. If they do not, then UCU will be asking members to begin a campaign of industrial action, starting with a two-day strike.

Will the union also be calling action short of a strike?

The forthcoming ballot will ask members to support both strike action and action short of a strike. It is important to understand that based on previous experience, effective ‘action short of strike’ like a boycott of assessment or marking is likely to lead to substantial deductions in pay of up to 100% by many employers and that this may lead to further strike action. For this reason, if you support the campaign for better pay it is vital that you support both the ‘strike’ action and ‘action short of a strike’ options on the ballot paper.

Will the ballot cover all HE employers?

The ballot will cover HE employers who mandate UCEA to negotiate on their behalf. A list of those institutions not included in the ballot for one reason or another will be published before the ballot opens.

Can non-UCU colleagues get involved?

Yes. Please share this message, encourage your colleagues to check how much the value of their salary has fallen at Rate for the Job and if they want a vote in the ballot they should join the union here.

I will write again before the ballot goes out.

Sally Hunt
UCU general secretary

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