University staff plan second day of strike action

pickets The union announcement follows a day of action at the end of October

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University academics and support staff are to stage a second national one-day strike on 3 December in a row over pay, four unions have announced.

Institutions across the UK could by affected by the action by Unison, the University and College Union, Unite and the Educational Institute of Scotland.

The dispute centres on a 1% pay rise offered to university staff - including lecturers and support staff.

Employers expressed disappointment at the decision to take strike action.

The unions say there has been a 13% pay cut in real terms since October 2008.

Unison, Unite and the UCU staged a one-day walkout on 31 October. For this second planned day of action, they are being joined the the Scottish education union, the EIS.

UCU head of higher education Michael MacNeil said: "Staff have suffered year-on-year cuts in the value of their pay and have made it clear that enough is enough.

"We remain committed to trying to resolve this dispute and the employers now have until 3 December to sit down and positively engage with the unions.

"If they don't, then our members and those from our sister unions will be out on strike again, as well as continuing to work to contract."

'Good offer'

The Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), which represents universities as employers, said it was disappointed by the announcement of industrial action.

A UCEA spokesperson said: "Ever since the initial consultation at the start of this year, UCEA's 150 participating UK higher education employers have continued to say that, given the challenging and uncertain operating environment, the 1% pay uplift is a good and sustainable offer and is at the limit of affordability.

"This of course sits on top of other pay elements totalling around 3% on pay. So any announcement of further industrial action is naturally disappointing.

"However, less than 5% of staff voted to support this and nine out of 10 of institutions reported 'no to low' impact from the day of action on 31 October.

"UCEA continues to say that it is willing to talk to the disputing trade unions so that we can explore together whether the dispute can be resolved."

Union leaders said the day of action in October affected 149 UK universities, with support services such as catering, cleaning and security hit alongside academic departments.

The National Union of Students (NUS) urged both sides to work towards a speedy resolution to the dispute.

NUS president Toni Pearce said: "For that to happen we need to see the employers getting round the table with the unions and negotiating a fair and sustainable settlement.

"Students want the staff in our universities and colleges to be treated well and paid fairly.

"Our own research shows that more than half of UK universities pay at least some of their staff less than the living wage.

"It is those on lower wages such as porters, cleaners and kitchen staff who have already lost out in the pay squeeze and now stand to lose out again."

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