University strike expected to go ahead on Thursday
University staff have offered to meet employers for eleventh hour talks to avert a one-day strike over pay, planned for Thursday.
Institutions across the UK are likely to be affected by joint action by the University and College Union (UCU), Unison and Unite.
The unions have rejected a pay offer of 1% which they say represents a 13% pay cut in real terms since 2008.
The employers maintain the offer is a good outcome for staff.
The unions say they are willing to meet for last minute talks but say they are not optimistic "as the employers had so far refused to engage in talks aimed at resolving the dispute".
Michael MacNeil, head of higher education at UCU, said: "There is widespread anger over the pay cuts staff have had to endure in recent years and all the reports we are getting suggest that Thursday's strike will be very well supported.
"We are amazed the employers are still refusing to sit down with us to try and resolve this without any need for disruption. There are precious few hours left now, but our offer of talks remains open."
Unison's head of higher education Jon Richards accused university management of "sitting on record surpluses, splashing out on senior management pay but refusing to give a decent wage to the staff who have made UK universities some of the best in the world".
The Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), which represents the universities as employers, has expressed disappointment at the rejection of the offer.
A spokesman for UCEA said that less than 5% of the higher education workforce had chosen to vote in favour of strike action and predicted "a low level impact on students".
The spokesman said that they had made their final pay offer in May and had been engaged in a dispute resolution process with the unions throughout the summer.
"We have met repeatedly over the last six months and as recently as last week."
The spokesman added that "salary costs in most HE institutions will actually rise by around 3% this year.
"Many staff will also get generous incremental increases and contribution pay. These pay increases will be seen as generous by many looking into the sector."
He added that the GMB union had agreed to accept the pay offer for its members employed by universities.
For Unite, the turnout for the ballot was 28% and of these, 64% (1,654 members) voted in favour of action. For the UCU the turnout was 35%, with 62% voting in favour of strike action.
Unison said that of those who had voted, 54.4% had been in favour of action and 45.6% against.
UCU says its members last went on strike over pay in 2006.