In March 2020, five trade unions within the UK (UCU, UNISON, UNITE, GMB, and EIS) issued a Higher Education Joint Unions Pay Claim to the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA). This dispute, which national UCU have labelled as Four Fights (due to its consideration of pay, equality, workload and casualisation as interrelated issues), is ongoing. Here is a key passage from the letter that the trade unions collectively have submitted:
The joint unions are seeking:
- a national, time specific, agreement detailing how action will be achieved by each HEI working with their trade unions to close the gender, race and disability pay gap,
- An implementation agreement agreed by HEI management and their trade unions which is then progressed and reported back to new JNCHES.
- a commitment by all UCEA affiliates to encourage their staff to declare their protected characteristics with their employers to help address discrimination; then the completion of a full Equal Pay Audit covering all protected characteristics by a specific date, and all the data to be shared with the campus unions. UCEA to collate and share with the unions nationally copies of all the Gender Pay actions plans drawn up by UCEA affiliates. (p. 14)
As you may know, four of the five trade unions in question (UCU, UNISON, UNITE, and GMB) are recognised by Brunel University London. I am pleased to report that the Brunel UCU Branch are leading the way concerning the pay dispute at the local level, currently pursuing a re-ballot on industrial action (and action short of strike, or ASOS). Even though well over 70% of our members who voted in November did support industrial action and ASAS, current UK government restrictions place a unique burden upon trade unions: Not only do most of the voters need to support industrial action and ASOS; but most of our membership need to cast a ballot in the first instance. Thus, the Brunel UCU Branch Committee ask – once again – that you cast ballots in favour of industrial action and ASOS concerning the pay dispute with UCEA.
Of course, as you know, the separate dispute between UCU and Universities UK (UUK) over Universities Superannuated Scheme (USS) pensions is ongoing as well. Unlike the pay dispute (which is a joint union dispute), the pensions dispute is limited to UCU (because our members will be disproportionately and adversely affected by proposed changes to the scheme). In any event, please be sure to cast your separate ballots (i.e., pay and pensions) in favour of industrial action and ASOS. Thanks so much, in advance, for your support!