University strikes loom unless pay increases

Staff at the University of Sussex and University of Winchester vote to strike over pay

Support staff at nine universities in England – including the Universities of Winchester and Sussex in the South East region –  have voted to strike over an “inadequate” pay offer from the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), says UNISON today (Monday).

Cleaners, IT technicians, library staff and other higher education workers will now decide on dates to take action unless UCEA increases its pay offer for 2023/24. 

UNISON says the current offer falls a long way short of inflation and staff deserve more.

Staff could walk out at the University of Bedfordshire, University of Bristol, Liverpool Hope University, University of Leeds, University of Liverpool, Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Sussex, University of Winchester and SOAS University of London.

The 2023/24 pay offer is worth 5-8% depending on salary, with a higher percentage rise for lower paid workers. Some of this amount – around £83 per month before tax – was paid early to staff in February to help with the increasing cost of living.

UNISON South East head of higher education Neil Duncan-Jordan said: “University staff deserve more than another inadequate, below inflation pay deal. 

“Support workers play a crucial role helping students through university, but many can’t support themselves as prices of food and fuel continue to rise. 

“Workers are having to leave for better-paid jobs elsewhere leaving millions of students facing a worsening university experience.

“The employers must now come back with a better pay offer or staff will be forced to take industrial action.”

Notes to editors:  
– Details of how the 2023/24 pay offer will affect university support staff are available here.
– UNISON was in dispute with UCEA over the 2022/23 pay award and took strike action in 19 higher education institutions in the autumn and earlier this year. This remains unresolved but as a result, UCEA offered to bring forward the start of wage negotiations for 2023-24 and pay part of this year’s wage rise early (from February).
– Talks are ongoing between UNISON, other higher education unions and employers on a range of other issues. These include a review of salaries to better address low pay, reducing excessive workloads and the use of insecure contracts.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.