This Guild Notes:
1. Several Higher Education Trade Unions are balloting on whether to take industrial action.
2. The key elements of these Trade Unions disputes are: A. Loss in the value of pay B. Shameful pay inequality C. Significant rise of vice-chancellor, principal and senior pay D. The scandal of casualization, high workload and stress
3. Since 2009, the cumulative loss to HE staff’s pay compared to RPI inflation is 21.0%.
4. Over the last five years University income has increased by 33.1%, operating surpluses have increased by 176.83% and reserves are up by 259.04%. At the same time, staff costs as a percentage of expenditure have fallen by 1.9%.
5. According to institutional data from 2016/17 for all academic staff, there was a mean gender pay gap of 11.8%, a difference of £5,936 per year.
6. Vice-chancellors (VCs) received average remuneration of £289,756 in the last academic year.
7. 29 universities increased their VC’s pay by more than 10% at the same time as staff on the 51 point pay scale received a 1.7% pay rise.
8. Overall VC pay increased by 3.2% — almost double the percentage for other HE staff.
9. On average, vice-chancellors were paid 6.5 times the salary of their staff.
10. Results of UCU’s latest FoI request found that 22 institutions had more than 100 members of staff earning over £100,000 per annum.
11. According to HESA, there are 72,000 staff on highly casualised ‘atypical’ academic contracts.
12. There are at least 51,094 university teaching staff on hourly-paid contracts and at least 12,567 with zero-hours contracts.
13. 66% of research staff are still on fixed-term contracts — more than 10 years since the fixed term regulations came into force — around a third are contracts of 12 months or less.
14. UCU’s recent workload survey reported HE staff are working an average of two days unpaid every week.
15. The vast majority of all HE staff (83.1%) reported that the pace of their work has increased over the past three years.
16. The HSE reports that workloads and work related stress cause significant harm. The latest Labour Force Survey shows that in 2016/17 stress accounted for 40% of all work-related ill health cases and 49% of all working days lost due to ill health. The prevalence is even higher in the education sector
17. University of Liverpool recently launched a Voluntary Severance Scheme, attempting to sack hundreds of staff to chase faulty TEF and REF Metrics
18. University of Liverpool is engaged in multiple disputes with staff on the ground such as in the Careers and Employability Service, including replacing professional Careers Advisers with student staff.
19. NUS is calling on Students’ Unions and students to stand in support of staff taking industrial action
This Guild Believes:
1. Staff’s working conditions are students’ learning conditions. The staff that teach and support us at University every day deserve fair and equal pay, job security and a work environment free from undue stress
2. Having demotivated, overworked and stressed staff drastically decreases the quality of our education and life at University as students
3. Senior University Managers’ pay and benefits are ever-increasing whilst staff and students living standards are squeezed year after year
4. Staff stand by and support us as students every day, HE trade unions campaign on issues that affect us such as tuition fees, and we should support them in their fight for a better working life
5. Students supporting staff in industrial action means less disruption and a just outcome, the longer the picket line the shorter the strike — as demonstrated by the USS Pension Dispute in 2018
6. Many students, particularly Postgraduates and those seeking careers in academia, are directly affected by disputes around pay and working conditions. Postgraduates are able to be represented by UCU and are at the forefront of casualization in HE
This Guild Resolves:
1. To release an immediate public statement of support if staff take industrial action
2. To educate students about any industrial action taken by staff and explain why they should support staff
3. To organise a ‘teach-out’ event to bring students and staff together to learn and discuss a range of topics including Higher Education and trade unionism
4. To lobby the University on the issues that staff raise and explain how it effects students as well
5. To oppose the detrimental redundancies and restructures such as those in the Careers and Employability Service.
6. Throughout the industrial action, the Guild should do its best to safeguard and advise students as much as possible, without ‘breaking the strike’.