Imperial College: Branch report on local pay campaign 2022-23
BBC’s Faisal Islam meets Imperial College Unite BS, Mark Keeping (baseball cap) and UCU’s Tom Pike, at the official picket, on 23rd February 2023
The Imperial branch of Unite has seen an increase in membership of over 16% since September last year, primarily on the back of increased activity, along with the other recognised unions at the College (UCU and Unison), as we entered our local pay dispute over an imposed pay increase for 2022-23 of just 3.3%. We believe that the huge media interest around the role of unions in negotiating pay and conditions in the face of the rising cost of living has galvanised the staff here more than in previous years.
Real Terms Cut!
Since Imperial separated from national bargaining around 15 years ago, our pay relative to inflation has gradually decreased, but the 8% real terms pay cut imposed on us this year – equivalent to a whole month’s salary – has been the straw that’s broken the camel’s back. It is also common knowledge that the college cannot claim poverty to explain its reluctance to improve pay with its large annual income and cash reserves of over a billion pounds.
In November, January and again in February, the branch has taken strike action for the first time in over 20 years, and while many of us were learning the ropes, we’ve definitely come a long way. Aligning our strike action with UCU’s local branch – which also had a mandate for striking on local pay – has been a bonus. But with no positive response from management to resolve the dispute, we are planning to reopen our ballot with the aim of securing another 6 months in which strike action can take place. UCU and Unison local branches are also doing the same – Unison‘s ballot fell only just short of the threshold number required for a mandate back in the autumn.
Stain on its reputation…
Imperial College has risen up the rankings in research excellence, student experience and global status as well as being at the heart of the international response to COVID-19, meaning that the failure to provide its staff with a fair wage is a stain on its reputation.