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University staff in strike ballot

Thousands of staff in universities, ranging from academics to cleaners, are to be balloted for strikes after the breakdown of pay talks, it was announced today.

Unite said its 20,000 members at universities across the UK will vote on whether to launch a campaign of industrial action in protest at a "derisory" offer of a £150 lump sum.

National officer Mike Robinson said staff had accepted below-inflation wage increases for the past two years, adding: "Inflation over the last three years has been 12.4%, so in real terms the offers on pay equate to a pay cut of about 11%. Unite members have had enough and have voted in a recent consultative ballot to reject the offer by a 4-1 majority."

Unite has members in more than 60 of the country's mainly older, elite universities, which the union said have "substantial" cash reserves.

The ballot is expected to open on October 28 and close on November 17. Unite is one of five unions involved in the pay talks.

Unite represents employees including academics, technicians, administrators, estates, security and domestic staff.

The dispute is separate to the public sector pensions row which threatens a huge outbreak of strikes by millions of workers on November 30.