Lowest paid protected from University of East Anglia Covid-19 cuts

The University of East Anglia’s lower-paid staff will be protected from planned cuts under a new deal struck with unions, UNISON reveals today.

UEA faces a £35m financial shortfall because of Covid-19 and has already asked staff to take voluntary pay cuts through reduced hours and voluntary redundancies.

University bosses also wanted to impose a blanket pay freeze across all staff, delaying scheduled incremental rises for long service.

But following talks with campus unions, UEA has agreed not to subject lower-paid staff to the increment freeze and to continue working to avoid compulsory redundancies.

UNISON, the union for cleaners, administrators, student support workers and other professional staff, and lecturers’ union UCU have accepted the deal.

Staff across higher education already face a pay freeze next year after national employers said they would not increase wages in pay talks earlier this month.

UNISON UEA branch secretary Amanda Chenery-Howes said: “This has been an incredibly difficult time for staff at the university — not only have we had Covid-19 hanging over us, but the threat of losing jobs and pay as well.

“If UEA is going to successfully emerge from lockdown it’s the cleaners, IT technicians and facilities staff who will make it possible as much as anyone else. It’s right that their pay is protected.

“What UEA staff, and universities across the UK really need is action from the government to protect higher education and its vital contribution to our economy and society. It won’t just be staff or students that suffer if our universities are left to cut themselves out of existence.”