UNISON is disappointed with the decision to make a payment of 2%, backdated to 1st August. Obviously we always welcome genuine increases to wages (!) but as we’ve pointed out elsewhere on many occasions, 2.0% or even 2.6% for the lowest paid, when inflation is nearer 3.2%, represents a real terms pay cut.
The fact that this is the “final offer” of UCEA is precisely why both UCU and UNISON are in dispute and we will be balloting members to confirm the results of our consultative ballot, which was overwhelmingly to reject this offer.
Paying the 2.0% at this stage, as recommended by UCEA is provocative, and is designed to make it look as if the dispute is over, by imposing yet another cut in our pay. If there is a real desire to make sure members of staff are not inconvenienced by having to wait for a resolution, then we would have been happy to discuss a neutral RPI-based interim payment of 3.2%, or something closer to our claim, which was 7.5% or £1,500 with a commitment to £10/hour, as a way of addressing low pay. (This may seem high, but it only goes some way to make up for the years of bellow-inflation increases which university workers have suffered.)
Obviously we welcome the commitment to pay at least the real living wage rate, which is due to UNSION raising this many times in the past and the University recognising that it is falling behind other major employers in Brighton and the South East, who have gone further and committed themselves to being accredited Living Wage employers, which tackles low pay employers in the supply chain.
It is worth noting though that this commitment will not extend to apprentices, but it is a small step in the right direction and we’re pleased to have contributed to it.
UNISON’s strike ballot opens on 14th September and closes on 25th October. It is crucial that all members return their ballot papers by the deadline and non-members who are equally fed up with real terms pay cuts can have their say by joining now.