University of Bedfordshire staff protest over 0% pay offer last year

University of Bedfordshire staff protested in Luton today (Thursday) over an “insulting” 0% pay offer for 2020.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 5:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 5:46 pm
Staff protesting outside the University of Bedfordshire

Workers are currently balloting over industrial action after the national Universities and Colleges Employers Association imposed a 0% ‘rise’ at the end of much-delayed talks on the August 2020 pay award.

Union UNISON held a protest at the university’s Luton campus this morning as staff push for an improved offer. Demonstrators held signs reading: “Thanks for Nothing.”

Below-inflation pay rises in the last decade means that staff in higher education are earning 16.4% less than they were in 2011.

University of Bedfordshire UNISON branch chair Martin Thurlow said: "Our staff have worked tirelessly throughout this pandemic both at home and on campus, so to be offered nothing is utterly disgraceful.

“University managers must return to pay negotiations for 2020/21 and make a real offer backdated to August 2020.

“All HE staff deserve a fair pay raise, not only for last year, but this year and every year.”

UNISON Eastern regional organiser Shane Hall said: “0% is an insult to the Beds Uni support staff who 've gone the extra mile keeping students and colleagues safe throughout the pandemic.

“This includes the IT teams who built networks almost overnight to move courses online, the caterers who delivered food to isolating students and the security staff who put themselves in harm’s way when Covid was raging through universities.

“Employers must see sense and reconsider.”

A University of Bedfordshire spokesman said: “We are extremely disappointed to have been singled out as one of only 49 universities for a strike ballot, after having worked hard to mitigate for the financial effects of the pandemic on our staff body, including minimal furlough applications and – where necessary – topping up furlough payments to ensure those staff affected would still receive 100% of their salary.

“As UNISON are aware we take part in ‘collective bargaining’ for the annual pay award, meaning we, along with most other universities and HE colleges, ask a representative body, UCEA, to negotiate with the trade unions on our behalf.

“It is also difficult to understand why UNISON are taking this action now regarding last year’s outcome rather than focusing on this year’s pay negotiations where a 1.5% pay increase has been made for trade unions to consider.”