UCU graphic of three fists representing the UCU Pay, Casualisation, Workload and Equality ballot

Birmingham UCU response to UoB Briefing on pay for academic and other related staff

Following the misleading and inaccurate all staff email from Tim Jones in last week’s UoB Briefing, we wish to respond as a branch to several of the points made.

Summary

  • The 1.8% increase is a real terms pay cut that is being imposed upon us
  • This adds to a cumulative loss to pay (compared to rises in RPI) of over 20% since 2009
  • UoB reported a £15,000,000 annual surplus in its most recent accounts (2017/18)
  • Vice Chancellor David Eastwood has a reported annual UoB salary of £444,000
  • Jo Grady (UCU General Secretary) is coming to speak to us on 9 October
  • VOTE YES and YES in the strike ballot, to improve our pay and pensions

We also remind members of Tim Jones’ poor attendance record at negotiations, having failed to attend a single pay negotiation in more than 14 months, and his continuing refusal to address any of the wider points in our claim on equality, job security, or fair and transparent workloads in any of his communications.

On the 1.8% pay rise from 1 August 2019

Tim Jones informs staff that the University has decided to implement an increase of 1.8% in October pay packets for Academic and Academic Related staff, back-dated to 1 August 2019, after Unions’ representatives rejected a final offer from employers of 1.8%.

This ‘final offer’, however, represents another below-inflation pay rise and has been overwhelmingly rejected by our members. In fact, the 1.8% is even lower than last year’s below-inflation offer of 2%, compounding years of falling pay. This adds to a cumulative loss to pay (compared to rises in RPI) of over 20% since 2009. What’s worse, this offer was made at at a time when our pension costs are increasing and employers are reneging on previous commitments made following the 2018 USS dispute.

The University of Birmingham is a wealthy institution that should be pushing for an improved national pay offer. UoB reported a £15,000,000 annual surplus in its most recent accounts (2017/18). The Vice Chancellor, David Eastwood, has a reported salary of £444,000 paid for his role at the University of Birmingham. UoB could and should be calling on UCEA to continue meaningful negotiations with the trade unions nationally, rather than unilaterally imposing an offer that has already been democratically rejected by members across the country.

Vote Yes in the pay and Equality and Pensions ballot

Universities, including our own university, have done nothing to address the declining value of staff pay, which has fallen in real-terms by 21% in the last decade. Unfortunately, experience shows us that the only way we will secure a fair pay deal that meaningfully makes up this deficit is by showing employers that we are prepared to take strike action. For this reason we urge everyone to vote and to vote ‘yes’ in the current Pay and Equality ballot, which you will have received in the post this past week, along with your ballot on the USS Pension dispute.

On UNISON’s support staff strike action and the 3% offer

Tim Jones states in his email that Unison: has “refused to accept the University’s offer of 3% from August” and, as a consequence of this, the University is “unable to make any change to support staff pay at this point”. This seems deeply hypocritical given that he has already said in the previous paragraph of the same email that the University intends to impose a 1.8% pay increase without agreement with the trade unions!

What Tim Jones failed to address was that their offer was rejected by UNISON members because they remain in dispute over last year’s below inflation pay offer (for 2018/19); because it did nothing to address the demand for Living Wage Accreditation and the shocking terms and conditions for low paid workers at the University’s new Hotel and Conference Park; because nothing was offered to improve the pay spines to improve progression for low paid staff; and because it did nothing to address any of the wider points on equality and workload presented in the Joint Unions Report for 2018/19. In short, the offer was rejected because it did nothing address any of the demands brought by support staff in their negotiations.

All this despite Tim Jones himself noting “that the lowest paid staff are most affected by cuts in government spending and increased costs”. If the University is serious about protecting low paid staff from the impact of cuts in government spending and increased costs, they should agree a fair pay offer which makes up for years of falling real wages and make sure everyone is paid the real living wage!

What can you do

Vote

This will enable all staff unions to work together to ensure a better deal from the University and from employers nationally.

Donate

Birmingham UCU members passed a motion in solidarity with UNISON members in their fight for the real Living Wage and fair pay and conditions at Birmingham. An important way you can do this is by donating to Unison’s strike fund, which will enable low-paid workers to continue their campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/f/uob-unison-strike-fund

Get involved!

Come to our upcoming members meetings on the 2nd October (details tbc) and 9th October (USS pensions meeting with UCU General Secretary, Jo Grady, details tbc).

We also need volunteers to help us get the vote out in coming weeks! Please come to meetings or email our branch administrator on admin@birminghamucu.org to find out how you can help.

David Bailey
University of Birmingham UCU co-chair
on behalf of the University of Birmingham UCU branch committee

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