Employees at UK universities and colleges are striking over pay on Thursday 31 October.
Members of the University and College Union (UCU), Unison and Unite are protesting a 2013/14 pay rise of just 1%.
The unions are demanding a basic pay rise of at least 3.2% to match inflation. The University and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) said that, with increments and contribution pay on top of the general pay uplift, sector pay is set to increase by 3%.
A spokesperson for the UCEA said: “Institutions tell us that the vast majority of staff understand the reality of the current financial situation and do not support action that would harm their institutions, and especially their students.
“Today’s action is passing off with only minimal disruption, but since fewer than 5% of staff voted to support this strike, this was not surprising. Nonetheless, we are all disappointed that, after six months of extended talks and what we believe is a fair pay offer, these trade unions remain on a path to cause disruption.”
“The trade unions claim that Higher Education (HE) institutions’ operating surpluses should be diverted to fund further increases in pay. This ignores the fact that, with central capital funding no longer available, institutions now have to generate at least this margin for essential re-investment in student facilities and campus infrastructure.”
“These pay increases will be seen as generous by many looking into the sector. HE employers value their staff and provide a good reward package to attract and retain outstanding staff. Pay in HE is keeping pace with comparable sectors and institutions are not experiencing recruitment or retention problems.”
Sally Hunt, general secretary at UCU, added: “Staff, from porters to professors, have walked out this morning in protest at some of the most sustained pay cuts since the Second World War.
“Nobody wants to be on strike, but a 13% real-terms pay cut as vice-chancellors’ pay continued to increase and universities’ surpluses built up simply is not fair.
“Although still early, we are already hearing news of closed departments and buildings with some universities’ entire teaching cancelled for the day. If the employers try to spin the action as having little impact then it merely shows how out of touch they are with what is really happening on the ground at universities.
“We are disappointed and annoyed that the employers are still refusing to talk to us and have wasted the past few weeks trying to undermine their staff’s actions and, once again, ignored their concerns.”