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Update on UCU national strike days: 25th and 26th of May

According to the recent THES survey, "the average salary and benefits package paid to university heads rose by £14,595 to £252,745 in 2014-15, a rise of 6.1 per cent". This compares to a 1.3% rise over the same period for us ordinary mortals and a real-terms drop in salary of 14% since 2009. It comes down to justice and equality: not only do we have a smaller percentage increase but also a smaller income. On a salary of 50K, 14595 is actually a 29% pay rise. That's what we should be offered just to match the increase in pay for university heads. In this context, a 1.1% offer is both insulting and a disgrace.

The email from the university about the forthcoming strike on Wednesday and Thursday, May 25, 26th, says that "Aston has a good record on staff pay". We also note that our VC did not take a pay increase this year. All well and good, but this strike is not about Aston or against Aston: it is about the national pay situation. Whatever marginal benefits we may or may not have at Aston, our pay is too low here and too low everywhere else. We are in a national dispute and are supporting all our colleagues in all the higher-education establishments, whether or not they have slightly more or slightly less average salaries; the differences will be very small either way.

Alongside pay, this strike is also asking for employers to take action on the gender pay gap and casualization of the higher education workforce. Again, regardless of the situation at Aston, these are significant national problems that need to be addressed. Full time, permanent staff may be able to manage without another pay rise, but the growing numbers of teaching fellows across the sector on zero hour contracts can’t.

This will be a tough campaign but we can shorten it by having a decisive effect. It is your duty as union members to support the strike and we expect EVERYONE to do so. We will welcome you to our gathering by the Main Building entrance, where we will be from 8 until 12 on Wednesday and then 8 until 11 on Thursday, after which we join a rally in the city centre. The organisers are asking us to arrive from 11.30am for a 12 noon start from the Irish Centre, Digbeth: more details to come shortly.

You may not wish to join us at the Main Building entrance or go on the rally, fair enough. But the bottom line is that you must not go to work on either day, wherever and whatever that work may be.

REMEMBER: you do NOT need to tell the university in advance that you are going on strike.

Please note that if you have missed any emails about the strike, they will all be on the local website in the news section: http://www.ucu.aston.ac.uk/site-articles. I think everyone who is a member is now receiving them but if you hear of any problems, let the membership secretary know.

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