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22 February 2006

University staff vote to strike over pay

UNIVERSITY LECTURERS have voted by a big majority, on a high turnout for the sector, to go on strike over pay. An even bigger majority backed action short of a strike.

Pete Dickenson, Brunel AUT steering committee, personal capacity

The anger reflected in this ballot result shows that we have had enough of the years of empty promises from the employers to give us the pay we deserve. Although lecturers' productivity has more then trebled over the past fifteen years, as student numbers have shot up with no increase in staffing, pay 'rises' have been near or below inflation for decades.

The management has been relying on the goodwill of lecturers to get away with this exploitation, but we are now sending a clear signal that the goodwill has run out. Enough is enough!

It is important that the union builds support for the strike action, not least because it will involve members from both the pre and post-92 universities, members of AUT and NATFHE, who will shortly be united into a single union - this is a clear test for the new united body.

Past action has concentrated on action short of a strike, (eg marking boycotts) but this has often proved to have had limited impact, because management could pick members off one by one.

This time the emphasis should be on building support for strike action which should be escalated if necessary if the vice-chancellors, the university bosses, remain intransigent. Another priority, which will be crucial in the campaign, is to win the support of students, whose future depends on having a high-quality education, itself reliant on decently paid and motivated staff.

The ballot details are: 64% in favour of strike action on a 51% turnout. NATFHE members also voted by larger margins on a similar turnout to take action.

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