UPDATE: Strike – 22 June 2016

The pay dispute is continuing with UCU now holding a series of rolling strikes across different HE institutions – the University of London strike will take place on Wednesday 22 June. All the other information below continues to apply – any question, drop Danny a line at danny.millum@sas.ac.uk or on 07783719479.

In other news, the IWGB will be formally balloting in July to join the ongoing industrial action.

Strike – 25 and 26 May 2016

1.What is the strike about?

The strike action next week is over pay, pay inequality and casualisation.

a)Loss in the value of our pay

Since 2009, the cumulative loss to our pay (compared to rises in RPI) is 14.5%.If inflation increases as predicted then by the end of this year the total real terms decline in our pay since 2009/10 could be as high as 17.5%. Meanwhile surpluses in the sector are over £1 bn.

b)Shameful pay inequality

Inequality in UK higher education is shameful with a gender pay gap of 12.6% (a difference of £6,103 per year) amongst academic staff in 2013/14. The total gender pay gap currently stands at a staggering £528 million.

c)The scandal of casualisation

75,000 university staff are on highly casualised ‘atypical’ academic contracts (at least 21,636 are zero- hours contracts). 67% of research staff are still on fixed- term contracts – more than 10 years since the fixed-term regulations came into force, around a third of these are contracts of 12 months or less.

2.When and where will the strike take place?

The strike is a national one, and will be taking place across all HE institutions on Wednesday May 25 and Thursday May 26.

3.Who has called the strike?

UCU members were balloted last month and voted overwhelmingly for strike action. The other unions have not yet balloted.

4.I am an IWGB member who supports the strike – what can I do?

The IWGB also rejects this pay offer and we will be consulting you about next steps over the next few weeks. Whilst IWGB members have not been balloted and are therefore not taking industrial action on these dates, a number of IWGB members will be unwilling, as a matter of principle, to cross UCU picket lines.

The IWGB has approached the University regarding this. The University has confirmed that, other than the deduction of pay for any absence, no further action will be taken against members who choose this course of action on 25 and 26 May.

If you do not wish to cross the picket line – you do not have to. Either do not come in, or come down and show your support, and notify your manager when you return to work that you wish to be put down as unpaid leave for those days.

5.Why strike?

Strike action shows the employers that we are serious in our demand for a fair pay rise. They have a choice as to how they spend their budgets – and they have chosen over recent years to build up surpluses and increase the proportion of non-staff expenditure. They will only pay us more if we force them to!

The pay deal that ends up being agreed is national – so it will affect us all!

6.What happens to my pay?

If you are on strike, or if you refuse to cross a picket line, you will be deducted your pay for that day. Obviously no-one likes to lose a day’s pay, but we have to weigh that up against the extra money that a successful strike will win us. Even extra 1% would more than make up for the lost days, and that 1% would be cumulative for every year to come.

7.What is happening on the days themselves?

The two days of strikes have been themed in London – the first one (25 May) will be highlighting gender pay inequality and the second (26 May) casualisation.

Wednesday 25th May timetable

8am onwards – pickets at home institutions

1.30pm – demonstration at UCEA (the employers’ organisation) in Tavistock Square

2.30pm – rally at the Conway Hall featuring Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell

Thursday 26th May timetable

8 am onwards – pickets at home institutions

1pm – demonstration at London Met (North campus) against casualisation.

8.What happens next?

This is only the start of the dispute. UCU will be looking to escalate to an exam-marking boycott, and the other unions will be balloting their members in time for the next strikes, which are likely to take place either in June and July depending on graduation OR on August 15 – the day that A-level results are announced, and clearing takes place.

9. Who can I ask for more information on this?

Feel free to drop Danny (danny.millum@sas.ac.uk) or Catherine (catherine.morrissey@london.ac.uk) a line with any questions.