THE AUT higher education union has announced that it will ballot its 47,000 members on strike action.
This follows the dramatic cancellation of last-ditch talks by the higher education employers' body, the UCEA. The employers proposed to renegotiate key elements of the pay package but then withdrew the offer.
The AUT, which represents academic and academic-related staff, is refusing to sign up to the new pay structure. It would lead to many academic-related members of staff losing £47,000 over 21 years, some researchers losing £17,300 over nine years and numerous lecturers losing £6,300 over eight years.
The union is recommending a yes vote in the strike ballot that will take place from 13 January to 11 February. If the vote is in favour, there will be a strike followed by boycotts of assessments, call-out cover and all staff appraisal schemes.
AUT deputy general secretary Malcolm Keight says, "The employers' actions have been absolutely shocking. The employers' pay and modernisation proposals are truly insulting. During the past 20 years higher education pay has fallen substantially in comparison to all other sectors, and yet we are faced with a proposed system that would lead to localised wage-bargaining and hefty losses in salary for many hard-working employees."
LECTURERS AT Westminster Kingsway College staged a successful one-day strike against a lesson observation scheme that was imposed on them.
Management are linking the scheme to a "capability procedure" that allows bosses to sack lecturers who fail, creating a climate of fear.
An overwhelming 75 percent voted for action and picket lines have received solid support. This should build enough confidence for lecturers to refuse to be observed this term.
This is the first local dispute at our college in many years. It reflects the growing anger of staff and students who are being made to pay for a £6.9 million budget deficit.
Management have already announced the closure of the Battersea site and are threatening compulsory redundancies and course closures.
Lecturers are not taking this lying down and the mood is there to fight on all fronts.