Friday, 24 August 2012

Higher Education Dispute Latest

I've just sent round a UNISON update regarding this (see below), but I just wanted to quickly sum up where we are now having met with other Bloomsbury UNISON reps yesterday.

  • All unions rejected 1%
  • All unions will be ballotting for strike action
  • UNISON ballot to run from 12 September to 3 October
  • Assuming a yes vote, strike can take place from 10 October onwards
  • UNISON's position is to go for a 2 day strike 18/ 19 October- but will need to agree with other unions
  • If necessary follow-up in November to coincide with student action.
It's great news that all the unions will be working together, and the idea of a two-day strike is to show the employers that we are SERIOUS, which is much more likely to bring them to the negotiating table.

Look out for your ballot papers in September, and for announcements of local meetings about the dispute (12 September and 19 September).

Any questions ask me in the first instance - / 020 7862 8812.


UNISON, the other trade unions, and the higher education employers this week met for final pay talks at ACAS. The talks failed to produce an improved pay offer from the employers, and as a result UNISON will be balloting for strike action among members in those Higher Education Institutions that are part of the national pay talks.

Members had previously rejected the employers’ pay offer of 1%, and no guarantee of a Living Wage for all HE staff. The Higher Education Service Group Executive (HESGE) then decided that, unless an improved offer could be obtained, we should ballot members on whether they are prepared to take strike action on HE pay. The HESGE is recommending that members vote YES to strike action.

The unions’ claim had been for a pay increase of 7%, comprising an element to match inflation, and an element to provide ‘catch-up’ following several years of sub-inflation pay increases – in other words, real terms pay cuts.

Employers will be sent dispute notices over the next few days, and members will receive ballot papers. The industrial action ballot will run from 12 September until 2 October.

Over the next two weeks, branches will be sent a range of information and materials, including ‘vote yes’ leaflets, ‘vote yes’ posters, frequently asked questions, key facts and arguments to help when speaking to members, and a Powerpoint presentation for use in members’ meetings.

We will also be launching an ‘E-mail your Vice-Chancellor’ campaign tool, enabling members to e-mail their Vice-Chancellor or Principal about the pay situation with just a couple of clicks.

It is vital that we get a strong turnout in the ballot, and a decisive vote in favour of strike action. To do this, branches will need to organise meetings, and maximise contact with members, to discuss the importance of the campaign and make it clear that the negotiations have gone as far as they can, without producing an acceptable pay offer.

And we must of course recruit and organise around this campaign, to build the union as we show that we are campaigning hard on behalf of support staff in higher education.

We will keep you updated with information and campaign materials, but branches, reps and members are also encouraged to visit for the latest news.

Best wishes

Mike Short
Senior National Officer
Education and Children's Services
Join us and march for a future that works. 20 October 2012, London.

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