University of Bolton staff are being balloted on industrial action in a national dispute over pay and pensions.

Unison members working in universities across the country will vote on whether to take action which could lead to a walkout.

The trade union which represents technical and support staff in universities described it as an “utter disgrace” that vice-chancellors receive annual salaries “in the region of £300,000 a year” while “many workers receive £20,000 or less”.

Union reps said that the University of Bolton’s vice-chancellor “presently receives a salary of £296,000 a year”.

Unison said that 30,000 workers nationally will vote in the coming weeks.

Two thirds of staff have rejected offers on pay and pensions, which Unison said would mean a below-inflation rise of 1.8 per cent for most employees.

Andrea Egan, Joint Branch Secretary of the Bolton UNISON Branch said: “Union members at Bolton University will receive ballot papers from Monday.

“This follows a long running dispute over pay.

“In our view it is an absolute disgrace that vice-chancellors can expect to claim around £300,000 a year while universities refuse to settle a reasonable pay claim.

“Unison is working alongside colleagues from UCU to fight for a much better deal.

“It is time to make a stand for decent pay and decent jobs.

“We are simply asking the universities to do the right thing by their staff. We are encouraging members to complete and return their ballot papers promptly. Any members who don’t receive a ballot paper are encouraged to get in touch.”

Unison’s head of education Jon Richards said: “Yet again university employers are fobbing off higher education staff with a below-inflation wage increase and a cut to pensions.

“Vice-chancellors’ and other senior managers’ pay packets continue to swell, but they won’t stump up for all the other staff who make universities world class, despite being pushed hard for a decent pay rise.

“Their mediocre offer will do nothing to help staff, especially the lowest paid who are struggling to get by on poverty wages.”

The ballot result will be known at the end of October.

Unison members in higher education include administration and IT, cleaning, catering and facilities maintenance, technical and laboratory services, library and sports centre services as well as other positions.