University of Lincoln lecturers strike over pay

University College Union (UCU) and UNISON members at the University of Lincoln are walking out in their first coordinated strike action in a dispute over pay.

Around 20 members of staff formed picket lines at all major entry and exit points to the university campus from 7am on October 31.

The nation-wide strike, with the addition of Unite members, will see classes cancelled as workers appeal against a “miserly” pay rise offer of just 1%, about 2.5% under the current rate of inflation.

University staff emphasise that since 2008, they have seen a real-terms pay cut of 13%.

The UCU Lincoln Branch say that, year on year, the pay of university bosses has increased on average at double the rate of staff pay.

Employers across the country have so far refused to negotiate the proposed 1% pay rise.

Staff say they are left with no other option and apologise for disruptions caused. The strikes, they say, are a last resort.

Branch secretary of Unison, Gwen Kemp, said: “We haven’t had a decent pay rise in the last three years. The pay rise last year was only 1% and that is what they have offered us again this year.

“We are also trying to push for the living wage for staff. We have contractors that work in the university that aren’t actually paid the living wage, they are paid just the minimum wage and they are struggling.

“We want employers to go back to the table, because there is still room for negotiation.”

Senior History Lecturer at the University of Lincoln, Harry Ziegler, said: “Since the government has raised the cap on tuition fees, the cost for qualifying as an academic has increased dramatically.

“If we assume living costs of £5,000 per year, then a student would have spent (or rather acquired a debt of) £35,000 as living cost, a total of £80,000 over 7 years.

“After all that, if you are offered a part time job, can you afford to work in higher education?”

While classes are cancelled for the remainder of the action strike, union members stress that disruptive action is a last resort.

Geoff Adams, from the UCU Lincoln Branch, said: “The whole point of today is that the employers have walked away from the negotiation table. We are sat there now waiting for them. This is our final and last course of action.”