Unite members working in universities across Northern Ireland and the UK will be voting on whether to strike, following a five-year ‘pay drought’.
Unite, the country’s largest union, said that its members’ real pay had been eroded by about 13 per cent since 2008 – and they needed a substantial rise to retain the dedicated staff to keep Britain in the top 10 world university league.
Unite will be balloting its members for strike action over the one per cent pay offer made by the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) for 2013/14. The ballot opens on September 30 and closes on October 14.
Unite Regional Co-ordinator Eugene McGlone, who has responsibility for universities in NI, said: “For the last five years our members have suffered a pay drought and seen their take home pay seriously eroded since 2008.
“On one hand, you have highly paid vice-chancellors travelling the world extolling the virtues of Britain’s universities and drumming up overseas students and foreign funding, yet the staff that keep Britain in the top ten of the world’s universities face reduced incomes.
“The employers have shown a callous disregard when it comes to fair pay treatment for their staff – and now strike action is very much on the cards.”
Unite’s membership embraces technicians, laboratory assistants, administrators and facilities’ management staff. The union has about 20,000 members in higher education.
Higher Education Statistical Agency figures reveal the following statistics (February 2013):
· managerial, professional, technical staff: 88,605 in the UK. In this staff group 12.5 per cent earn less than £23,121 and 39 per cent earn less than £31,020
clerical staff: 71,130 in the UK. In this staff group 57 per cent earn less than £23,121 and 91 per cent earn less than £31,020