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Staff to target universities in parallel strike

Academics join support staff in retribution for money-grubbing 18 per cent wage cut

Three trade unions have agreed an unprecedented joint strike that will bring universities across Britain to a standstill later this month.

The UCU, Unison and Unite trade unions declared the 24-hour strike for Thursday October 31 in a row over pay - the first time the three have ever taken strike action together in higher education.

The unions say bosses have proposed a pay rise of just 1 per cent this year - a 13 per cent pay cut in real terms since October 2008.

They also point out that the wages of bosses such as vice-chancellors have soared in some cases to more than £200,000.

UCU head of higher education Michael MacNeil said: "Staff have suffered year-on-year cuts in the value of their pay. Quite simply, enough is enough.

"We urge the employers to reflect on the fact that they are about to face their first ever strike by three unions at the same time and come to the negotiating table to resolve this dispute."

When the unions announced plans to ballot members on strike action the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, which represents and negotiates on behalf of universities as employers, said it was "disappointed" with the move.

It argued that together with the 1 per cent increase, more than 40 per cent of staff covered by the negotiations would be eligible for further pay progression, taking their pay increase to around 4 per cent.

But Unite's national officer for education Mike McCartney said members "have had enough of the poverty pay increases of recent years" and have been left with no option but to "fight for what's fair."

He said: "There is still time for the employers to step back from the brink in this dispute. We urge them to get back around the negotiating table with the three unions to resolve it once and for all."

Unison head of higher education Jon Richards added: "Our members are upset and angry - this measly 1 per cent offer is simply not good enough.

"The work of support staff is essential for the smooth running of universities and they play a vital role supporting students, but many are struggling to survive on low pay."

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