University of East Anglia UCU Rotating Header Image

On the current pay dispute: Fighting for fair pay for all of our members

A message from Mark Walmsley, Membership Secretary

The unity we witnessed in the face of a significant attack on our deferred pay last year was an important moment for many of us.  As we enter a new campaign – fighting the continued erosion of our current pay – it is important that we recognise how this issue continues to affect our membership in different ways.

I voted Yes and Yes on my ballot because I strongly believe that all staff should reject the continued erosion of our pay and conditions.  Having talked with a number of members in the past few weeks I know this view is not universally shared.  As a new member of staff I know how the yearly increments insulate some of us from the impact of below-inflation pay increases.  I also recognise the imposter syndrome that undermines our confidence, which tells us we should be grateful for what we have and take anything that others are prepared to give us.  I understand the hesitation to protest on pay when friends from my PhD are still struggling to find stable employment.

However, even if I didn’t believe that I deserve better, even if I felt that the current offer from management was acceptable to me as a permanently employed member of academic staff, I would still have voted Yes and Yes because I know the impact that this pay deal will have on my colleagues and fellow members.  As others have mentioned regarding this dispute, solidarity is the cornerstone of trade union membership.  To me, voting for strike action and action short of strike is not a selfish act.  I believe it is an act of solidarity.  It is a message to those who continue to suffer the most from the changes in our sector that we will not let them down.

The picket lines last year were filled with colleagues who do not hold the privileges that many of us have.  Those same colleagues are asking us to vote Yes and Yes to challenge the conditions that they face on a daily basis.  I will not ask colleagues to come out for me when my pension is threatened and then turn a blind-eye to their continued fights against casualisation, pay inequality, and institutionalised discrimination.  They, and we, deserve better.  Better is possible if we fight for it, but only if we fight together.

As Membership Secretary, I believe it is vital that our branch represents all of our members.  I strongly encourage you to vote Yes and Yes on the current ballot.  More importantly, I urge you to listen to the voices of members who have kindly provided testimonials and statements about why they feel we need to resist the current pay deal.  If you would like to write for the website (which you can do anonymously) or just share your opinion with the committee, then please get in touch with ucu.office@uea.ac.uk.  It is important that all voices are heard and all members feel represented by our union.

On the current pay dispute: Understanding the impact on academic related colleagues

On the current pay dispute: The importance of tackling casualisation