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From: The Socialist issue 922, 26 October 2016: Protest and strike to save our NHS

Search site for keywords: Higher Education - Unison - Pay - Education - Strike - University - UCU - Bristol

Unison higher education seminar points no way forward over pay

Unison education workers striking with UCU lecturers, 24.2.16, photo Iain Dalton

Unison education workers striking with UCU lecturers, 24.2.16, photo Iain Dalton   (Click to enlarge)

Domenico Hill, Bristol University Unison (personal capacity)

The Unison higher education sector seminar took place in Brighton 20-22 October. The key issue for union members was the decision by the service group executive (SGE), by the narrowest of margins, not to call strike action over the 2016 pay claim, despite the fact that 55% of those voting were in favour.

A representative of the SGE argued that the turnout had been too low to justify taking action. But a delegate from Brighton University pointed out that the number of members voting to take strike action was almost exactly the same as in 2013, when strike action was taken and won an increase from 1% to 2%.

The SGE tried to blame the education union UCU for taking strike action on its own in May without exhausting all options, but it's pretty clear from bitter experience that the universities would not shift noticeably on their derisory pay offer, this year from 1% to 1.1%.

This discussion was taken on the last morning of the seminar and little time was allowed for a proper discussion.

Wage decline

For eight years in a row university staff have seen their wages decline. The seminar broke up with a sense of anger at the lack of leadership by the SGE, mixed with some frustration and feeling of helplessness.

The key task is to ensure that the left win a solid majority on the SGE so we can finally start standing up for an increasingly low paid and undervalued workforce.

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