Unite is latest union to ballot staff at Leeds university over pay

Staff at a Yorkshire university are being balloted over possible strike action in a dispute over what they say is a real terms pay cut.

The University of Leeds
The University of Leeds

The union Unite is currently balloting its members at the University of Leeds as well as universities in Bristol, Glasgow and Sussex, with strike action pencilled in for late November.

It follows the two other unions, The University and Colleges Union (UCU) and public services union Unison, also balloting their members at UK universities.

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However UCU announced today it has failed to achieve the miniumum 50 per cent turn-out required by law at most universities, including Leeds.

Unite bosses say there is growing anger among university staff over the latest two per cent pay increase being “well below” the inflation rate of 3.3 per cent.

They say staff have seen their pay cut in real terms by 21 per cent since 2009, despite universities having a 33 per cent increase in income over the last five years.

Unite members at universities include lab technicians, office, security and estates staff and cleaners, with most earning between £20,000 to £30,000 a year.

Siobhan Ednean, Unite national officer for education, said staff have “had enough” and called for the University Employers to return to the negotiating table.

A Department for Education spokesperson said higher education providers set the pay levels for their staff but added: “We hope that a solution to the dispute can be found that will result in a positive outcome for HE providers, staff and students.”

A University of Leeds spokesperson said: “This is part of a national pay dispute and we recognise the right of unions to ballot its members. Unite is one of three unions who are consulting members in Leeds, and the University has been represented by UCEA, the employers representative in the negotiations. We note that in the recent ballot of Leeds members, University College Union did not achieve the 50% turnout required by law for industrial action.”