British University academics vote for strike action

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

University academics in the Association of University Teachers (AUT) and NATFHE unions in Britain have voted in favour of strike action in protest against academic salaries. The unions claim that academic pay has fallen 40 per cent in relative terms over the past 20 years and that employers have broken public promises to use extra government funding to improve pay.

Members were given the options of voting for strike action and also for 'action short of a strike'. 64% of those who voted in the AUT, and 70% of the NATFHE members, voted for strike action. 81% of members voting in AUT, and 87% of NATFHE members, voted for action short of a strike. Turnout for AUT members was 51%, and turnout for NATFHE was 47%.

NATFHE general secretary Paul Mackney said, "This is a strong mandate for action and shows the level of dissatisfaction throughout higher education." Speaking to the employers, he said that they must respond immediately with an offer - not talks about talks - if they are to prevent disruption. AUT general secretary Sally Hunt said, "University staff do not appreciate being lied to and today they have said that enough is enough."

The Universities and Colleges Employers' Association (UCEA) claimed that the ballot represented only a "small minority" of academic staff and offered 'constructive negotiations', but only if the threat of industrial action was dropped. Jocelyn Prudence, Chief Executive, said that they would seek to minimise any impact upon students.

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