Labour Research January 2020


University leaders must speak out

Sensible university leaders must speak out, the UCU lecturers’ union said last month in response to a letter from the UCEA university employers’ body saying it would not talk to the union about pay. 

The call followed eight days of strike action across 60 universities last term and warnings that further action could be on the cards.

The UCEA letter said it would not talk to the union about pay — one of the issues at the heart of the disputes. This is despite the UCEA’s own recent pay report finding that staff pay has fallen by around 17% in the last 10 years.

UCU members took action between 25 November and 4 December in two disputes. One focuses on changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme; the other is about pay, casualisation, workloads and inequality.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “The growing number of vice-chancellors who have joined their staff on picket lines or said they want to do more but can’t intervene in a national dispute need to step up to the plate.”

She said the employers’ side needs pragmatic and sensible vice-chancellors to come forward and start setting out practical ways to work with the union to resolve these disputes. 

“Staff are not making unreasonable demands and they deserve basic levels to be established so we can build on them going forward,” she added.