Strikes by university support staff called off after pay breakthrough

Strikes by university support staff over the next two weeks have been called off after a breakthrough in negotiations over pay, Unison has announced.

Five unions – Unison, UCU, GMB, Unite and EIS – issued a joint statement with the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), confirming three days of strikes will be suspended after talks at conciliation service Acas, though discussions will continue.

It follows an agreement from university employers to give more money to the lowest paid in higher education and undertake a thorough review of the salary grades of all staff, according to Unison.

Both sides have agreed to further talks to discuss pay grading as well as other concerns including zero-hours contracts.

Unison’s head of education, Mike Short, said: “Improving the wages of the lowest paid university employees is a crucial step. Cleaners, domestic staff and others at the bottom of the pay scales have been in dire need of help.

“The pay structure in the sector has been unfit for purpose for years, with far too many staff earning just the minimum wage with little chance to progress in their careers.

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“The fact that talks are to continue is a positive move. It’s vital that progress is made in improving the wages of everyone working in higher education.”

Meanwhile, Unisonthe UK’s largest union said the majority of ambulance staff at the East of England ambulance service (EEAST) had voted in favour of a strike.

The union, which represents about three-quarters of workers at EEAST, said 87% of those who voted opted for industrial action.

Earlier this month, EEAST staff joined a nationwide strike for the first time over staffing levels and pay when members of the GMB union voted for industrial action.

GMB said its members would join national industrial action on 6 March.

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