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Strikes ‘likely’ at Leeds Metropolitan University

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Union officials at Leeds Metropolitan University said today more strikes are likely in the new year - after two previous walk-outs in protest over pay.

The University and College Union (UCU) made the statement after claiming UCEA (Universities and Colleges Employers Association) managers effectively walked away from pay talks.

Despite no agreement with the UCU – the largest trade union and professional association for academics and lecturers – managers declared a one per cent rise, plus £300 one-off bonus.

Unions had submitted a claim for an “above inflation” increase without specifying an amount. But last week the university’s management team said they would award staff a one-off lump sum of £300.

Paul Blackledge, a professor of politics and UCU branch secretary, said: “What we want is a proper pay rise, not a one-off sum subject to tax. Over the last five years, lecturers have suffered below inflation pay rises and this year alone will be £800 to £1,000 worse off. The university has a surplus of £24m and universities nationally have a surplus of £1bn, so this is affordable.

“In addition, we have not formally agreed a deal. The one per cent has been awarded unilaterally without our agreement.

“Taken alongside the real terms pay cut UCU members won’t be running and shouting for joy all the way to the bank.”

Prof Blackledge said there were also “soft suggestions” from management that lecturers in Leeds would be better off if pay deals were agreed locally, as opposed to nationally.

He said: “There are suggestions we would be better off without national bargaining. The danger in that is we could easily end up in a position where a tiny minority of academics – the ‘superstars’ – do very well, while the vast majority will see conditions worsen.”

Leeds Metropolitan University managers refused to comment on the pay deal.

 

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