Text from branch president Ben Plumpton’s email to members
You’ll have seen today’s email to [Allstaff] about the pay offer. In case the mention of 3.65% rises had you feeling hopeful, note that this was only for scale points 2 and 3. From Grade 5 upwards it’ll be just 1.8%. Suggesting that increments are a form of wage rise is also misleading – this is an entirely different matter. Many people are stuck at the top of their scales anyway and so won’t get any increment.
A 1.8% rise is a pretty poor in comparison to average wage rise growth in the UK, currently at 3.9% (see for example https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/aug/13/uk-wages-rise-at-fastest-rate-for-a-decade-despite-brexit-risks) The value of our salaries has fallen by over 20% since 2009 as a consequence of below inflation increases for many years, and whilst this is just one concern among many that we have about our working conditions, it is a critical indication of the worth that universities like ours place on their staff. You will also have realised that the extra pension contributions from October (see my email yesterday) will instantly eat up almost all of this pay “rise”.
Vitally important parts of our annual pay and conditions claim concerned pay inequality, casualisation, and excessive workloads. All of these are significant problems at Leeds. We had hoped that this year, the employers’ side (represented by UCEA) would negotiate sensible national agreements on these issues which matter so much to staff, often more so than pay. This has not happened – they were unwilling to discuss these issues meaningfully.
UCU has made every possible effort to negotiate both on pay & equality and on pensions, but employers have been intransigent. So your union is preparing to ballot for industrial action on both issues. As Jo Grady, our new UCU General Secretary, said:
“By standing up for pensions, pay, equality and job security, we are defending not just ourselves but our profession. The sector’s income has increased by a third since the beginning of the financial crisis, and that is thanks to our hard work in an incredibly difficult environment. How have employers rewarded us? With intensifying casualisation, wage suppression, and pension cuts. Some of us may not feel the effects of cuts and inequalities directly, but we can all appreciate what they do to our colleagues. Securing national agreements on these things is the most efficient way to make the sector fairer, more inclusive, and more appealing to future generations of university staff.”
So, when your ballot papers arrive in early September, please be ready to vote Yes for industrial action on pay & equality as well as on pensions.
Latest updates on the national negotiations about pay and equality are here: https://ucu.org.uk/he2019