More than 4,000 UNISON members completed the annual higher education survey, which exposed concerns about pay, working hours and the threat from COVID-19.

A UNISON survey published last week shows how university staff including cleaners, security guards and administrative workers are feeling increasingly anxious about work, now that universities have reopened <<read more>>

Petition launches to get COVID tests for all education staff

UNISON has launched an emergency petition calling on Matt Hancock for all education workers to be included as one of the groups named for priority COVID-19 testing.

It takes a whole team to keep schools, nurseries, colleges and universities running, but when the health secretary announced the list of workers that will be eligible for priority testing in England, in education, only ‘teaching staff’ were mentioned.

This completely ignores the fact that over half of the staff in education aren’t teachers.

Please sign – and share – the petition


This online workshop will be delivered by an Open University lecturer and is open to UNISON members and activists.

The general content of the day is as follows:

–          Historical background to autism

–          Characteristics of autism

–          Areas of difficulty

–          Typical behaviours

–          Some strategies for dealing with people with autism

The course is not intended to be about how to manage someone with autism in a setting, but is more of a general introduction with some guidance given.

The dates/times for this training are:

Wednesday 4 December 2020 between 9.30 am and 1.00 pm with a break mid way

This online course is only open to UNISON members.  If any members would like to attend this workshop, please log your interest by completing an online form at:-


UNISON Black Members delegation holding UNISON banner

This month, UNISON celebrates Black History Month – a time to celebrate how Black people and communities have shaped our history.

For UNISON, Black History Month is a time to acknowledge and celebrate achievements of Black people throughout history.

Black History and Black British History in particular, is often marginalised.

So Black History Month is a key time to acknowledge achievements and provide an opportunity to discuss wider issues affecting the Black community.

Black History Month is particularly poignant this year, as we reflect on the disproportionate number of Black lives lost during the pandemic.

Dave Prentis, Unison General Secretary writes: “There is a new visibility to Black lives, but for the worst of reasons. So many Black lives have been lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. And while the reasons for this are complex, the main one is the ‘everyday’ racism deeply embedded across society.”

“Black workers have faced the highest levels of risk because they are over-represented in frontline, low-paid jobs. Jobs that have been traditionally undervalued or even invisible.”

If you want to find out more about getting involved as a Black member, take a look at UNISON’s Black members site, or contact our branch Equality Officer Ana Yousaf.


UNISON offers a free standard wills service for members and their partners (if doing a mirror will). We also offer reduced rates for members’ complex wills.

The simplest way to obtain your will is to use our bespoke online wills service.

Access UNISON’s free will service

UNISON’s online wills service is very straightforward to use, just complete the online questionnaire. The questionnaire with its online guidance will carefully take you through the process. 

We have also negotiated a low-cost wills service for members and their families.


Congratulations to our UNISON colleagues at The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, who have averted the threat of compulsory redundancies through collective action. 

Staff members at SOAS were threatened with up to 88 compulsory redundancies, as part of the school’s Transformation and Change restructuring project. 

The SOAS Unison branch balloted its members on taking industrial action. 74% of members voted for industrial action, with a 71% turnout. Strike action was scheduled for the 22nd and 23rd of September, with both virtual and physical pickets planned.

At our branch officers meeting on 16th September, a motion was passed to donate £200 to the SOAS branch’s strike fund, and for a message of support to be sent from our branch.

The planned strike action was called off on 18th September, when a new agreement was made between SOAS and the branch. In the new agreement, members facing redundancy will now be provided with an extended redeployment period, and will receive individualised support and development training to help them find alternative roles within SOAS. 

 “SOAS Branch activists celebrating victory”

“SOAS Branch activists celebrating victory”

Once again, congratulations to the SOAS branch for their victorious action. They have shown the power of a united and organised branch, using direct and timely action when required.


The Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) has released a statement to the joint higher education trade unions that announces a pay freeze for 2020/2021.

UNISON head of higher education Ruth Levin said:

“With the real-term value of pay having fallen over the past 10 years, due to insufficient pay rises, it’s about time universities provided a decent pay rise to their staff.”

UNISON head of higher education Ruth Levin said: “This proposal is clearly a huge disappointment. Higher education support staff have worked so hard over the past few months to support students and colleagues to keep universities going.

“Universities will play a vital role in getting this country through the pandemic, in rebuilding the economy and in providing opportunity to the increasing numbers of eighteen year olds, and others, in coming years.”

The proposed pay freeze is at odds with the joint unions 2020 / 21 pay claim made in March, details of which are given below.

The 2020 / 21 Joint Unions Pay Claim

In March, HE unions submitted a ‘timely and serious’ pay claim for 2020/21 to include:

  • An increase in all higher education salaries by the Retail Price Index plus 5% on all 49 points of the national pay spine; for all pay related allowances including London weighting, to have same uplift;
  • The minimum hourly rate of pay for staff employed by universities to be £10.50 per hour. This is to be applicable to staff at all HEIs whether the standard full-time weekly employment contract is 35 hours per week or above
  • For the standard weekly full-time contract of employment to be 35 hours per week at all higher education institutions
  • Ending pay injustice – meaningful, agreed action to tackle the race, gender and disability pay gap; to take an intersectional approach to the ways in which intersectionality and protected characteristics impact on pay equality
  • Meaningful, agreed action to address excessive workloads and unpaid work; action to address the impact that excessive workloads are having on workforce stress and mental ill-health.


Northern College – working differently during COVID-19

Digital short courses running in September.

Start Date End Date Course Name
3 Sept 4 Sept Digital foundations
9 Sept 10 Sept Web Design with WordPress
15 Sept 16 Sept Intro to App Creation
24 Sept 25 Sept Further database

The courses are all delivered remotely and tutor led, running time 9.30 am – 4 pm with hour lunch breaks and lots of ‘away from the screen’ time doing blended learning.

To apply visit Short Courses and select “apply for a course online” and complete the online booking form.

When applying, please remember to select the box saying you are a UNISON Member.

If you have any questions about the course please contact Nicky Straughan at Northern College on Tel: 01226 776000  E-mail:, Web:

Staff Skills Academy

UNISON has formed a partnership with the Staff Skills Academy to give members access to over 550 free online courses, from time priority management to how to manage virtual teams to remote workers’ security. 

All the courses are CPD certified, allowing members to show proof of their learning to their employers.

To request a Staff Skills Academy account, members will need to email, quoting “Skills Academy” in the email subject line.

For a list of the courses available view our website at:

 UNISON partners with Staff Skills Academy to give members free online learning