University staff plan fresh strike

University academics and support staff have announced a third national walkout amid an increasingly bitter row over pay.

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Members of four unions - Unite, Unison, the University and College Union (UCU) and EIS in Scotland - are due to take part in the strike on Thursday, February 6.

Institutions across the UK could face disruption with lectures, seminars, workshops and tutorials cancelled or postponed as academics along with support staff such as technicians and administrators join picket lines.

University employers said that they are disappointed that another strike has been called, adding that institutions are reporting "low to no support" for the walkout.

The latest move is a further escalation of the unions' industrial action over a 1% pay rise offered to university staff.

They insist that the pay offer means that their members have faced a 13% pay cut in real terms since October 2008.

Two one-day national strikes were staged in the autumn, and the UCU is currently holding a series of two-hour stoppages which they say is aimed at disrupting teaching.

Mike McCartney, Unite's national officer for education, said: "Our members have endured a six-year pay drought which has seen a 13% cut in pay in real terms since 2008.

"In the context of the cost of living crisis, the current 1% on offer is paltry. This also has to be seen against the background of the top university vice chancellors having an average £22,000 pay rise in 2012-13."

He added: "This will be the third day of strike action our members have taken - and more industrial action is on the cards in 2014, unless the employers get around the table to negotiate a fair and equitable settlement for those that keep Britain in the top 10 global university league table.

A spokesman for the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) said: "Higher education (HE) institutions are already reporting low to no support for the industrial action that UCU, Unite, Unison and EIS continue to call on their members to take. Since less than 5% of staff voted to support strike action, this is not unexpected.

"We are disappointed to see yet another strike day called with the intention to affect students' education, and that the trade unions continue to present a partial picture on HE pay.

"The pay increases this year, comprising the nationally negotiated rise which was implemented in December and backdated to August 2013, individual increments and merit awards are costing around 3% and this is at the limits of affordability for HE institutions. Actual earnings in HE have not seen anything like the decline that the unions are claiming."


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