Higher Education Pay Ballot for Strike Action

Why Universities in the North East can afford and should pay their staff more

Since 2008 Higher education staff pay has failed to keep up with the cost of living. So, while your council tax, transport costs, water bills and car parking costs have all gone up, your pay hasn’t kept up – which over that period  in real terms equates to a pay cut of between £1,585 and £8,248.

Check how much pay you have lost by using UNISON’s online pay calculator


This year employers have offered 1.1% for the majority of staff, with an increased percentage for the lowest paid. UNISON has rejected that offer because we believe that you deserve better, and that a pay rise is affordable, as since 2010 the amount spent on staff nationally by universities has dropped 3%, but total reserves have rocketed by 72% to over £21bn.

Many Vice-chancellors and senior management in universities across the north east are paid well over £100,000 a year – which is more than a Member of Parliament in the UK gets paid – they earn a salary of £74,962 a year.

In 2014/2015 Durham University paid their bosses over £511k – one of the highest figures in the country.

Teesside University’s vice-chancellor salary in 2013 was £221,000 a year – making him one of the best paid public servants on Teesside – an area of high unemployment and social deprivation.

In 2012 the highest earner at Sunderland University was the vice- chancellor and chief executive, was on a salary of £192,000. Other senior leaders include the deputy vice-chancellor and chief executive, with salaries ranging from £126,000 to £131,000

Additionally, most universities in the North East are putting massive investment into their buildings and facilities. For example, Newcastle University has invested up to £100million in estates this year, and Northumbria University announced this year that it wishes to invest £52 million into its city campus.

It is clear that pay austerity is a ‘choice’ being made by universities and not a necessity

Please vote YES for strike action when receiving your UNISON ballot paper, but more importantly please use your vote whatever your opinion,  and make sure your voice is heard.