As we come to the last few days of our statutory ballot it is more important than ever that you vote to take strike action in defence of your pay. Postal strikes mean you need to post your ballot by no later than the last post on Monday 17th October to ensure it arrives in time to be counted.
This week we have announcements that the UK is headed into a recession with the economy contracting by 0.3% in August. On top of this, inflation rates are at their highest in decades with RPI at 12.3% and predicted to rise further in 2023. The mortgage market is in turmoil with payments rapidly rising along with interest rates and deals in short supply. According to Kantar research, the average food shopping bill is predicted to go up by £12 a week, (that’s £643 a year). Prices at the pump are up, your energy bills are up, it seems at times that almost every bill has seen a sharp increase. The cost-of-living crisis is biting our members hard and the standard of living for staff is falling rapidly.
However, the crisis for academic staff is not just caused by unusual economic circumstances in this financial year. It’s in large part caused by a deliberate policy of employers in the sector to reduce the real terms values of salaries and the proportion of university expenditure that goes to pay staff. They prefer instead to build reserves, spend on new buildings, swell the ranks of off-scale senior management, and boost the pay of Principals. Since 2009, your pay has lost almost a third of its value in real terms. That was not caused by the current economic crisis. It was caused by the employers deliberately cutting your pay year on year in real terms by offering sub-inflationary pay awards.
Your employers can afford a better pay offer. Their accounts demonstrate record reserves. Some employers are even brazenly offering non-consolidated offers to try and buy off industrial action. That alone demonstrates that the employers can make a decent, reasonable, consolidated pay offer if they choose to do so. It also demonstrates that they fear solid action from union members.
To add insult to injury, this combination of non-consolidated payments, and the real terms lowering of the value of your pay means lower pension contributions and this will affect you into your retirement.
EIS has raised all these issues with the employers, in our negotiations with UCEA. We have told them about the impact their continued pay suppression policies are having and given them examples of the toll this has taken on our members. They have still refused to budge on making a sensible and reasonable offer. They have told us that they "consider this pay round closed." That response leaves members with only one option - to take serious industrial action in the form of strike to force the employer back to the negotiating table to achieve a better, consolidated pay settlement.
Vote YES, vote TODAY and send the message to UCEA and your employers that we will no longer stand for this attack on academic pay.