UNISON members directly employed by the University of Leeds and Leeds Arts University will be consulted on their pay in TWO ways over the coming weeks.

The first is an online consultation on next year’s pay offer (2021). The online consultation is open now.

The second is an industrial action (strike) ballot on this year’s pay freeze (2020). The ballot will open at the end of June.

It is really important that YOU take part in both. Please see below for more information on each.

1.Online consultation on 2021/22 [NEXT YEAR] pay offer

You will have received an email on Monday, 24th May from Ruth Levin at UNISON with the subject Private & Confidential: Your Pay Offer. The email asks you to take part online to accept or reject the university employers’ final pay offer for 2021/22. This is part of an online consultation of all UNISON members working in higher education.

The employer’s final offer on pay would see an increase of only 1.5% for the majority of HE staff from 1st August, 2021. This falls far short of the pay claim jointly submitted by the higher education trade unions, which called for a catch-up pay rise of £2,500 for all staff. As inflation now rises again following the ending of lockdown, it is quite possible a low 1.5% rise would once again fail to keep up with the everyday cost of living. Employers have failed to reward the extraordinary efforts you have made and the risks many of you have faced working through a pandemic.

UNISON’s national Higher Education Service Group Executive and your UNISON branch committee both recommend that YOU REJECT the pay offer in the online consultation.

The online consultation opened on Monday, 24th May and you will be sent an email with a link to participate. The email will be sent to the address where you usually receive UNISON emails. Please let us know if you have not received this email.

You will also be able to participate online here, using your UNISON membership number or National Insurance number. The consultation is confidential and closes Friday, 18th June.

2. Industrial action ballot on 2020/21 [THIS YEAR] pay freeze

In late June/early July you will also receive a postal ballot from UNISON on the employers’ 2020/21 pay freeze sent to your home address.

This will be a formal industrial action ballot taking place at 52 universities across the country on the national pay freeze that was imposed on us by the employers from 1st August, 2020. This academic year neither you nor your colleagues in HE got a pay rise. Yet without your efforts, universities would not have been able to function through the COVID-19 crisis. It is not too late for the employers to improve their 2020/21 offer in order to reward you and your colleagues fairly.

UNISON is consulting you on taking strike action to oppose the unilateral implementation of a freeze on pay across the university sector. Your completed paper ballot should be returned in the accompanying freepost envelope by early August. The vote is confidential.

The ballot paper will be sent to your home address. It is vital that UNISON has the correct postal address for you. If you have not received any UNISON post to your address recently, please contact unison@leeds.ac.uk to let us know.
We will be setting up meetings and providing more information via email closer to the opening of the industrial action (strike) ballot.

UNISON’s national Higher Education Service Group Executive and your UNISON branch committee both recommend that you vote to REJECT the pay freeze and vote to take strike action to demand fair pay.

Together these TWO votes offer YOU a chance to demand from the University of Leeds, Leeds Arts University and the other employers, the decent, fair pay rises that you and your colleagues deserve after more than a year of exceptionally hard work and dedication through the pandemic – and through many years of derisory pay rises representing real-terms pay cuts. For a decade, employers have suppressed your wages and intensified your workloads.

If you vote to reject both the derisory 2021/22 pay offer and the insulting 2020/21 pay freeze you will send a strong message to the employers that university workers will stand together to demand fair pay and defend higher education.

It is really important that YOU take part in the TWO votes and ensure YOUR voice is heard. If you have any questions about the consultation or ballot, please email unison@leeds.ac.uk.