One of our ‘Four Fights’ is about inequality.
We are calling on Higher Education employers to address the scandal of the gender, ethnic, and disability pay gaps.
While salaries at the top of universities continue to grow, and there are ever more senior managers on six figure salaries, very little has been done to address the inequalities that blight our sector. Across Higher Education, women are paid on average 15.1% less than men, there is a 17% pay gap between black and white staff, and the pay gap for disabled staff is 9%. During negotiations about ‘pay and related matters’, employers make supportive noises about this and say they are happy to have working groups to discuss it, but they will not agree to actual commitments to do anything.
We think this is unacceptable, so we are asking you to vote Yes Yes in the Four Fights (pay and related matters) ballot.
Last time we were in dispute with the employers over equality, in 2019/20, we were starting to see some progress towards a national framework, binding on all HE employers, rather than vague wishy washy promises. That was abandoned by employers when the pandemic struck in March 2020 and UCU called off further strikes. We need to push them back to meaningful, agreed action to tackle the injustice of the ethnic, gender and disability pay gaps, and also to take proper account of the impact of intersectionality.
The employers’ body UCEA say they have no mandate from their members (ie university leaders) to do anything about inequality. Leeds management tends to say “Oh but we are only one university, we have no influence on this”. But actually, Leeds could choose to push within UCEA and show sector leadership to ensure that these commitments are made. It is a national issue and UCEA needs to proactively seek a mandate from its members and agree to binding commitments across HE.
We know from experience, and from the latest round of negotiations where our negotiators were basically given a big No, that the only way to see change on equality as well as on workload, pay and casualisation, is to be willing to take industrial action.
So please vote Yes Yes in the Four Fights ballot, to push UCEA to committing to genuine agreements towards a more equal workplace.
Pay inequality lasts throughout life into retirement – lower pay leads to lower pension. We need solidarity from every member on the equality issues because everyone deserves a decent, fair wage now and a decent retirement. We all deserve decent and secure working conditions, a genuinely accessible work environment and a healthy work life balance.
If you haven’t received your ballot papers, please request a replacement at https://yoursay.ucu.org.uk/s3/USS-HE-replacement-form Do it now! – today is the last day to get a replacement.
Please vote Yes Yes Yes Yes. And post your votes soon because the ballots close next Thursday and we’d recommend getting your vote in the post by Monday to be sure of it getting there in time.
Ben Plumpton and Megan Povey
Joint Equality Officers, Leeds UCU
PS If any members would like to attend the UCU Equality Groups Conference in early December (on Zoom) please let us know, see https://www.ucu.org.uk/membersannualgroupsconference (there are five separate half-day conferences for black, disabled, LGBT+, migrant and women members, and a plenary session for all equality strands)
Email to members 28 October 2021 from joint branch equality officers Ben Plumpton and Megan Povey
This page was last updated on 30 October 2021