The University College Union (UCU) and some of its members have started their 5-day strike today (Monday, September 25). It will last until Friday, September 29, coinciding with many universities’ freshers’ weeks.
Plus, members at a further 10 universities are expected to be striking on at least one day next week.
Initially, the strike was set to include over 140 universities, but staff at 88 universities pulled out after deals were made between employers and branches last week to end the “punitive” pay deductions, according to the union.
The UCU called on other universities to follow suit and said halting action will allow its branches to focus on organising a re-ballot of members to continue taking industrial action in the long-running national dispute over pay and working conditions.
University staff have been campaigning for higher pay throughout the year, and previously held walkouts.
The union members previously took industrial action in February and March, and voted to reject a pay offer earlier this year, which would have led to around a five per cent pay rise, saying it was “not enough”.
Regarding the pension dispute among university staff, UCU has demanded employers revoke earlier cuts and restore benefits. The package of USS pension cuts meant the average lecturer was set to lose 35 per cent of their future guaranteed retirement income, with those starting out in their university career potentially losing hundreds of thousands of pounds.
So, how much do university staff earn?
How much does a university lecturer make in the UK?
In the United Kingdom, there is a pay spine known formally as the HE Single Pay Spine.
This is led by the UCU, which negotiates salaries, employment conditions, and pay structure on behalf of higher education (HE) and further education (FE) institutions.
According to the 2019 HE Single Pay Spine and the typical 2019/20 university grade system, an average salary for university staff in the UK is £40,761 for a lecturer, £51,590 for a senior lecturer, £64,356 for an associate professor, and £90,891 for a professor.
The vast majority of UK universities use the HE Single Pay Spine, however, a handful of institutions do not. When not using the HE Single Pay Spine, staff salaries are regulated internally.
According to the 2018/19 HE Single Pay Spine and the average 2019/20 grading levels, the average salaries of research assistants, lecturers, and professors include:
Graduate Research Assistant, £30,760, £26,715 – £34,804
Associate Lecturer, £30,760, £26,715 – £34,804
Postdoctoral Research Assistant, £31,990, £29,176 – £34,804
Lecturer, £40,761, £34,804 – £46,718
Research Fellow, £40,761, £34,804 – £46,718
Senior Lecturer, £51,590, £44,045 – £59,135
Senior Research Fellow, £51,590, £44,045 – £59,135
Associate Professor, £64,356, £55,750 – £72,962
Professor, £90,891, £68,531 – £113,251.
When are the next strikes by university workers in September?
Strikes across 42 universities began today (Monday, September 25) and will last until Friday, September 29.
As mentioned, 88 universities pulled out of the strike after deals were able to be made between employers and branches. However, a further 10 universities’ lecturers are set to strike at least one day next week.
Speaking about the industrial action when it was announced, UCU general secretary Jo Grady had said: “We are left with no option but to strike during the start of term because our members refuse to stand by while pay is eroded and staff are shunted onto gig-economy contracts.
“It is shameful that vice-chancellors still refuse to settle the dispute despite a year of unprecedented disruption, and have instead imposed a pay award that staff overwhelmingly rejected.
“Universities are richer than ever, generating tens of billions of pounds in income and hoarding billions more in cash deposits. But they won’t give staff their fair share; a pay award of five per cent is a huge real-terms pay cut and is substantially lower than school teachers received.”