Another day, another threatened or confirmed strike in the education sector.
It’s almost like nothing is new, or that people seem content to argue all the time. Ultimately it causes disruption all over the place and is a huge inconvenience to everyone involved.
Interestingly, the most recent cause of UK educational strikes is in the university sector over pay. This is something that has always touched a nerve with me, given my thoughts on some pretty extortionate pay in this particular area.
You may remember some time ago I waded into university pay when I looked at some of the extraordinary pay packets some of the vice-chancellors out there were being given. Some of them I believe to be absolutely deplorable, given significant budget cuts in the sector and the trebling of university tuition fees over the last few years. However, when I saw what was going on with several unions, it made me realise what a mess the system appears to be in.
3 unions representing university staff will go on strike on 31st October after rejecting an offer of a 1% pay increase, arguing that, in real terms, this represents a cut of 13% in real terms. As a result, Unite, Unison and the University and College Union (UCU) will all stage a one-day strike of their university members.
As we’re all aware, I don’t always see eye-to-eye with the unions. However, this is something I can see their side on. For me, the uneven distribution of finances in this case is quite shocking. Students don’t pay extortionate fees to see Vice-Chancellors pocket over £250k and enjoy great bonuses and wage increases every year, only for then to see other members of staff in a difficult situation. Obviously, this is something that is subject to many different claims, but even I could tell you that 1% is not going to help people keep up.
Meanwhile, the Universities and Colleges Employers Association have said that they are disappointed with the decision to strike and that there was an offer back in May. It would appear that somewhere along the line, this wasn’t enough.
For some reason I don’t blame the unions on this. Overpaid vice-chancellors and rising surpluses means that, to not be able to protect ordinary university workers is, in fact, quite shocking.