University of Bedfordshire staff to vote over strike action after 0% pay offer in 2020

Administrators, cleaners, technicians and other staff at the University of Bedfordshire are voting on strike action after a 0% pay offer in 2020.

Monday, 5th July 2021, 12:00 pm
University of Bedfordshire's Luton campus (C) University of Bedfordshire

The ballot is expected to take around six weeks to complete and university staff are said to be "furious" at the 0% offer last year.

National talks on the 2020 pay deal were delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, although the 2021 pay deal apparently offers a 1.5% increase.

UNISON says that staff have helped the university shift to online learning and kept buildings Covid-secure, ensuring they can stay open.

They have described the university's pay offer as "a real-terms pay cut".

UNISON Eastern regional organiser Shane Hall said: “Staff have moved heaven and earth to keep universities running over the last year, from setting up remote classes, to keeping halls clean and safe.

“But in return they’re being offered a big, fat nothing – a 0% pay offer that will leave staff with less money in their pockets each month as bills and other essentials keep rising.

“University chiefs have refused to listen to reason so unfortunately staff are left with no option but to consider industrial action.

“We urge employers to come back to the table and give workers something to show for this year of hell.”

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.

"[We have] worked hard to mitigate 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."

According to the university, it follows the same practice as other high education institutions by allowing the UCEA (Universities and Colleges Employers Association) to negotiate with the trade unions on its behalf.

The spokesman added: “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."