Raise wages to prevent Bedfordshire university strikes, UNISON tells UCEA

Support staff at the University of Bedforshire are to be balloted from today for industrial action over the “inadequate” pay offer from the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), says UNISON.

Over the next five weeks, higher education workers including cleaners, IT technicians and library staff are to vote on whether to strike after the university employers put forward a wage rise that’s way below inflation, the union says.

Staff across the university’s campuses are being balloted from today until Tuesday 9 May.

The 2023/24 pay offer falls far short of what staff deserve, says UNISON. It is worth between 5% and 8% depending on salary level, with lower paid workers getting the highest percentage rise. Some of this amount — around £83 per month before tax — began to be paid to staff in February to help staff with the increasing cost of living.

UNISON put the pay offer to higher education staff in February and their decision was to reject the amount.

UNISON Eastern regional organiser Julie Trundell said: “This is nowhere near enough. For years university support staff have received wage rises far below the cost of living.

“As bills and the cost of food continue to go through the roof, it’s essential that employers come up with much more than this inadequate sum.

“Staff are already leaving for better-paid jobs in supermarkets, warehouses and coffee shops. If universities don’t start paying more competitive wages, the sector risks a staffing crisis that would spell disaster for millions of students.”

Details of how the 2023/24 pay offer will affect university support staff are available on UNISON’s national website.

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