2018-19 Pay Campaign Strike Ballot Result

Members may already have seen the result of our national postal ballot over pay.

The national website has details here.

61.9% of members who voted, voted to reject the 2.0% pay offer and were prepared to take strike action, but the turnout of 31.0% falls short of what is required to take the campaign further.
We are very pleased that a clear majority of members voted in accordance with the national recommendation, endorsed by our branch, that we should firmly reject a below-inflation increase, since it represents a real-terms pay cut.

Normally, we would now be preparing for action and coordinating with UCU and other unions to make the action as effective as possible.

Unfortunately, the viciously anti-democratic Trade Union Act says that a 50% turnout in a strike ballot is required for the legal strike action to take place. All other democratic votes stipulate no such restrictions, but combined with 20th century rules on postal-only balloting, these regulations are specifically designed to make it as difficult as possible for trade-unionists to organise, particularly in relation to effective strike action.

Many of our members and activists will, quite correctly, be angry and frustrated at this outcome. For years we have seen our wages fall back in real terms and every year, we aim to campaign for a real-terms increase with an element of catch-up to bring us back to where we should be. Even at universities where employers have agreed to pay the real living wage, many of our members are struggling to afford even the essentials.

For many of us, it felt like this year would be different. With ballots timed to match those of UCU and campaigning material produced and distributed to branches, it looked like we were better prepared to deliver a significant result which could have breached the 50% turnout threshold.

Whilst many activists thought that a 50% turnout represented a significant challenge, that didn’t stop the most active branches and activists from campaigning to reach it. At Brighton we visited most workplaces with leaflets and emphasised over and over again how members need to make sure their vote is returned, by post, before the deadline. We produced one regional newsletter and a guide to voting. We also contacted many of our members by phone, at work, to check that they had voted and guide them to do so if they hadn’t.

Since we don’t have a regional or institutional breakdown of votes (we’re trying to establish if we can get that), we don’t know how successful our campaign at Brighton has been. What’s clear is that there is an enormous amount of work to do on a national basis if we are to attempt the same project next year. Whilst Labour have promised to repeal the Trade Union Act, it would seem that if the Act is still in place next year, we would be best advised to ballot on the basis of a disaggregate ballot, which would mean that if we achieved 50% at an individual university (as opposed to nationally) then this would allow local strike action to take place, which could still be coordinated with UCU and other unions.

Whilst moving away from national action, albeit as a result of adopting a pragmatic approach, may not be ideal (and debates over different tactics to use will continue), it would at least give us some options if we are to do what trade unions should be doing, and deliver meaningful increases to pay and pensions for our members from the autumn of 2019.

We’d like to thank all our members who played a part in this campaign, even if their only contribution was to make sure that they voted! We know that many of our members went further than that and encouraged others to do so. Many activists gave up their time and energy for the benefit of all, in the best traditions of trade-unionism.

We talked to many people over the last six weeks. Our branch has clearly been strengthened as a result of the campaign, even if the outcome is not what we would have liked.

The result represents a setback which the higher education service group of UNISON and the trade union movement has to learn from. It will be necessary to discuss and debate the way forward and draw up plans for delivering the best possible outcome for our members in the future.

Despite our disappointment, we will continue to campaign for the best possible working conditions for all our members, whilst laying the groundwork for the pay campaign of 2019.

2018-19 Postal Pay Ballot – two weeks left to vote!

If you work for the University and haven’t yet voted, you have two weeks to do so.

It’s really important that we get a decent turnout, so please make every effort to vote by the 25th October deadline.

If you’ve not had a ballot paper, please let us know and call 0800 0857 857 for another one.

Every vote will count, but every ballot paper that doesn’t get returned could mean that we can’t take action over a below-inflation pay offer.

There’s more info in our October newsletter.

Vote YES for Strike Action!

If you work directly for the University, you should have received a ballot paper from the Electoral Reform Service.

It’s important that you vote, so please make sure you do, by posting your ballot back to them by the 25th October.

If you haven’t got one, it’s either because your home address details held by UNISON are incorrect, or you’ve joined since the ballot cut off point, roughly at the end of August.

Either way, to get a ballot form, you’ll need to contact UNISON as follows:

Call (Freephone) 0800 0857 857, Monday to Friday 6am – midnight, Saturday 9am – 4pm.

They will ask for your current address and issue you a ballot form. If you can’t get through, please keep trying. It’s really important that we get as large a turnout as we can.

Please let us know if you have any problems.

Response to the University’s decision to pay the 2%

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.

2018-19 Pay: National Industrial Action Ballot announced

UNISON’s Higher Education Service Group Executive met yesterday to decide on the next steps for this year’s pay campaign. The consultative ballot of all branches returned an overwhelming vote in favour of rejecting the “final” offer of 2.0% or £450, which is consistent with the message received from our branch’s membership.

Members will receive ballot papers to their home addresses by the end of September, but we’ll provide details nearer the time.

The anti-trade union laws make it unlawful for industrial action to take place unless we manage a turnout in excess of 50%, so it is important that every member returns their vote and makes sure that other members do so as well.

Since ballots will go to home addresses, we need to make sure that our information is up to date (we don’t get any info from the University).

Members can check their data by registering and logging into MyUNISON, here.

We can let you know your membership number if you need it.

Alternatively, just contact us (email or call 2450) and I can check for you.

 

 

 

2018-19 Consultative Pay Ballot Result

The results of our ballot of Brighton branch members on whether to accept or reject the “final offer” of 2.0% or £425 is follows:

84.2% voted to REJECT the offer.

15.2% voted to ACCEPT the offer.

The turnout was 57.7%.

Thanks to everyone who voted or persuaded others to vote. This is the highest turnout we have had in a consultative ballot and sets a good foundation on which to build, if a full postal ballot takes place in the near future. (The blatantly undemocratic Trade Union Act requires a turnout of at least 50%.)

The result is a clear endorsement of the recommendation of this branch and UNISON nationally, that 2% in real terms is a pay cut and that we have to reject this offer and campaign for more.

A national meeting of the Service Group takes place tomorrow (Thursday 2nd August), where reps will consider the national situation. As a democratic union, we will take into account the feelings of all members in all branches, but on the back of this result, we will be making a case for a full national ballot to be run alongside UCU and other unions, which will potentially allow us to threaten action if the employers don’t offer a more reasonable settlement.

Once again, thanks for playing your part in that process.

We’ll bring you further news when we have it.

 

 

 

Vote YES TO REJECT – Consultative Pay Ballot 9th – 26th July

As promised, we’re balloting all our members on the employers’ final offer of 2% or £425.

We think this is a below-inflation, real terms pay cut, and so we’re recommending that members vote to REJECT it.

There’s further information in the July newsletter (out soon) and on UNISON’s national website.

Vote ‘Yes to Reject’ the HE pay offer

Ballot forms will go out from next week and members can also vote electronically.

We’ll be holding site meetings to discuss the issue and ask members to make sure that we all vote in this important consultation.

More to follow….

UNISON to recommend that members reject 2.0% for 2018-19

UNISON’s national Service Group Executive met last week to discuss the employer’s final offer of 2.0% or £425 (whichever is greater) from August 2018.

The group noted that the offer still represents a real-terms pay cut and does not come close to the pay claim of 7.5% (or £1,500 and £10/hour minimum wage).

Given that a motion passed at the January 2018 conference committed the Service Group to reject and ballot over any offer which falls short of the claim, UNISON will now conduct a national consultative ballot for all members falling under the national UCEA agreement. The recommendation will be that members reject the offer and threaten industrial action.

At Brighton, we have been clear that a pay offer which comes in at less than inflation is a pay cut, and that higher education workers have to be organised enough to campaign for more. As soon as the timescale for the ballot is announced, we will do everything we can to make sure that all our members vote and that we can collectively campaign for a pay rise worthy of our hard work.

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2018-19 Pay: Final offer of 2.0% or £425

UNISON negotiators met the employers’ organisation (UCEA), alongside sister trade unions yesterday (10th May) to hold the final of three scheduled meetings to discuss the pay increase for all University employed staff due on 1st August 2018.

UCEA made a final offer of 2.0% or £425, whichever is greater. (At Brighton, this would mean a range of increases between 2.0% and 2.6% for grades 1, 2 and 3.)

This is an increase from the earlier 1.7% offer, but hardly a substantial one. When you consider that the pay claim made by unions was designed to make up for years of sub-standard pay increases, to offer at least a full percentage point below the current level of inflation, when all predictions expect inflation to remain above 3.0%, this is a real terms pay cut and one that this branch thinks our members should reject.

The next step is for the Service Group Executive to meet on 23rd May, and a consultation of branches and members will inevitably follow.

Montage of faces and pay up now logo