University wages strike ballots

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Lecturers on the picket line last year during their strike over pay and pensions

UCU members at Coventry University are being balloted for industrial action in a row over pay. The ballot opened yesterday and closes on Tuesday 5 March.

Members are being asked to back both strike action and action short of a strike, which could see them boycott a controversial new appraisal system.

The dispute centres on the university’s refusal to adopt a national system for pay increases used by the vast majority of universities.

The union says the system, imposed by the university in September, is even worse than its much-maligned previous version that had left academic staff at Coventry among the worst paid in the West Midlands.

UCU says the system forces staff to jump through unnecessary hoops to achieve the annual incremental pay award that is standard at other institutions. Before they can hope to get any pay increase, they must get their line manager to submit a business case to HR for approval.

The union says it has been left with no alternative but to ballot for strike action.

  • The ballots of members of the University and College Union (UCU) at Tower Hamlets College and Redbridge College opened on Monday (11 February) and will close on Friday 1 March. If staff back strike action, they will join colleagues at other colleges in a third wave of strikes over pay and conditions in March.

Previously, UCU members at six colleges took action in November and members at 13 colleges walked out last month, including at Croydon, Lambeth and West Thames colleges in London. The dispute centres on the failure of colleges to make a decent pay offer to staff who have seen the value of their pay decline by 25% over the last decade.

The pay gap between teachers in colleges and schools currently stands at £7,000. UCU said low pay was bad for staff, students and colleges, while around two-thirds of college heads said pay is a major obstacle for them when it comes to attracting staff.