Reposted from UCU’s national website about their fairpay campaign: http://fairpay.web.ucu.org.uk/he-resources/#.Uz_syqJv7Ya
Why are academic and other university professional staff taking industrial action?
The people who teach you, the people who staff your libraries, the people who conduct world-class research in our universities, are having their pay cut. Their pay has fallen by 13% in real terms since 2009 and now staff are angry because their employers are refusing to offer any more than 1% for this year. 1% is way below inflation and as such, is just another pay cut.
This is in spite of the fact that universities are in very good financial shape. Universities are sitting on a collective surplus of more than £1billion plus far bigger reserves. They are congratulating themselves for accumulating these surpluses by awarding their Vice Chancellors an average 6% pay rise. The average Vice Chancellor or Principal now earns £250,000.
What’s happening to academic pay?
Every year, our union, the UCU, tries to negotiate with university employers to ensure that staff get a fair pay rise that enables them to keep pace with the rising cost of living and makes the profession attractive to the brightest and best people.
For four years, our employers have effectively offered us nothing. As a result, academic pay has stagnated in absolute terms (its face value): Median pay for a full-time lecturer rose by only 0.3% in 2013 and in 2011, it fell by 1%!When the rising cost of living is taken into account, the real value of what your lecturer earns has fallen by 13%.
Our members earn less than academics in most of the English-speaking world, including the USA, Canada and Australia.
Why is fair pay for staff important?
Partly because it’s the right thing to do:
Lecturers train for years to become highly skilled professionals. Many of the younger ones coming into the system have student debts to pay off. Many thousands are employed on short-term contracts, some paid only by the hour and these people really struggle to make ends meet or to build a career. Even those fortunate enough to be more established are struggling to make ends meet and support their families as their pay loses value and the bills just get higher.
If pay keeps falling like this, students will suffer too. Before 2006, when UCU was able to win a pay rise for lecturers, pay fell over a long period like this and experts warned that the best people would simply stop coming into the profession. UCU is worried that this is beginning to happen again.
We apologise for the disruption:
We know that the industrial action is causing disruption. We’re very sorry about this. None of our members comes to work wanting to take any kind of action that negatively impacts on students.
Our members are the people who teach and research and provide a world-class education for millions of young people and they are passionate about what they do. But you can’t come to work every day and face a rising workload and, in some cases, a bullying management and then be expected to take home less pay, year after year.
The fact is that every day that University managements are allowing this dispute to roll on is another day that they are damaging the quality of your education. We have tried to persuade them to resolve this dispute through negotiation and through our campaigning but they just won’t listen, so industrial action is all we have left.
What action are we taking:
We are trying everything possible to minimise the disruption to students at this stage. We have begun a series of actions designed to cause disruption over two-hour periods in an attempt to get the universities to talk to us. But this cannot go on forever. If university managements still refuse to talk to us about a fair pay offer, we will have no option but to consider our most serious action, a marking boycott. We really do not want to do this but our members cannot go on taking pay cuts.
University managements have caused this dispute – they can end it today:
The really bitter truth is that this dispute is unnecessary. University managements could end it today if they wanted to because we know that they have the money for a fair pay settlement. Universities are sitting on healthy surpluses and very large reserves but they are refusing to use this money to invest in their staff, the people who make our universities so great.
When you pay £9000 every year for higher education and you take on a debt that will stay with you for a lot of your life, you have a right to know that you can expect high quality teaching and contact time. When you see disruption, it is natural to feel angry at your lecturers or their unions. But we would ask that you look below the surface and direct your anger at the people who are really responsible for this disruption, the people who have single-handedly caused this dispute: the Vice Chancellors with an average salary of £250,000, sitting on big surpluses and huge reserves who are willing to put your education on the line rather than invest in their staff.
University leaders seem to have forgotten that they are not the university, nor does the university belong to them. It is the staff and the students who make a university. Are people who refuse to invest in staff and who actively undermine the quality of education fit for the sector, let alone a bloated salary and a 6% pay rise?
What can you do?
We would ask that you email your Vice Chancellor calling on them to press their national negotiators to make their staff a better offer. Help us to get the universities back round the table and end this damaging dispute before it gets any worse.
Talk to your Students’ Union about how you can get involved. [Editors’ note: UWESU seems to be obstructing so perhaps you can email them, asking what they have been, are and will be doing about this, and cc or bcc this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org].
Speak with your lecturers and other university staff and let them know you support them.