Vice-chancellors’ group calls UCU’s pay demand ‘April Fools’ joke’

Uni lecturers and staff are going on strike for 18 days this term

The Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), which represents university vice-chancellors and other groups, has likened the UCU’s pay demands to an “April Fools’ joke”.

The UCU has announced it will be striking for 18 days in February and March, as staff are in an ongoing campaign for better pay and pensions, among other things. It has confirmed the strikes will begin on the 1st February, with the dates for the further 17 strike days due to be announced next week.

They are campaigning for a meaningful pay rise to ease the cost of living crisis, the ending of use of insecure contracts, and are demanding unis revoke cuts to pensions and restore benefits.

Unis gave a pay rise of three per cent this year (with inflation currently over 10 per cent), following what the UCU calls “over a decade of below-inflation pay awards”. Last week the UCEA gave an offer with between four and five percent, but the UCU said this is “not enough”.

Trade unions met again with the UCEA this week, asking for a pay award of RPI plus two per cent, which they say will “address the cost-of-living crisis university workers are facing”.

“In response, a representative from UCEA likened the claim to an ‘April Fools’ joke'”, the UCU said. “The vice-chancellor […] did confirm that when the parties next meet on Wednesday 25 January an updated offer would be presented.”

When the strikes were announced earlier this month, Jo Grady, the UCU general secretary, said: “Today our union came together to back an unprecedented programme of escalating strike action. The clock is now ticking for the sector to produce a deal or be hit with widespread disruption throughout spring.

“University staff dedicate their lives to education and they want to get back to work, but that will only happen if university vice-chancellors use the vast wealth of the sector to address over a decade of falling pay, rampant insecure employment practices and devastating pension cuts. The choice is theirs.”

Featured image via Vuk Valcic/ZUMA Press Wire/Shutterstock

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