Cambridge UCU has expressed concerns for college staff, who are excluded from the paymentLouis Ashworth

Cambridge UCU has criticised a one-off “exceptional Covid payment” of £1,000 for University employees, as it will not include staff employed directly by colleges.

The one-off payment for University employees was announced on 7th June by Professor Kamal Munir, the pro-vice-chancellor for community and engagement.

In an email sent to staff, the payment was said to acknowledge “the exceptional contributions of staff during the Covid-19 pandemic”.

The payment of £1,000 (pro-rata) will apply to those University staff employed before 1st May. Munir wrote that the payment will acknowledge that staff “worked tirelessly” due to the challenges of online learning and the pandemic.

He said: “I am extremely grateful to all of you for your efforts and commitment over this incredibly challenging period.”

The Cambridge branch of the University and College Union (UCU) has raised concerns over the payment. Staff employed directly by colleges as well as by Cambridge University Press and Assessment (CUP&A) will be excluded from the payment as they are not University employees.

The branch also highlighted to the University the potential negative impact of the payment for staff claiming benefits.

They said: “With inflation at 10%, it is far from a pay rise that meets the spiralling living costs that we are all facing.”

University reserves increased by £93 million in the year 2020-21 and on this the UCU said: “Cambridge University can afford to pay its staff properly, rather than offering us real terms pay cuts year after year.”

A similar announcement was made by the Universities of Oxford and Edinburgh but the decision to make a one-off payment “was made separately by each university”.

A spokesperson for the national UCU told The Tab: “On the face of it one-off payments will appear welcome as the cost-of-living crisis bites, but university managers are kidding themselves if they think it makes up for pay having fallen by a quarter since 2009, or for university staff facing unjustified cuts of 35 per cent in their retirement incomes.”


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When contacted for comment, a spokesperson for the University said that the one-off payment “was made to all staff directly employed by the academic University who were in employment on 1 May 2022” and that it is designed to acknowledge “the exceptional contributions they made during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

They added: “The payment, which is separate from the national pay round, was possible because the University’s financial position through COVID was better than it had feared, and it did not make pay awards in the first year of the pandemic.”