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Update on higher education pay and working conditions negotiations

21 March 2024

I am writing to update you on the ongoing negotiations in higher education pay and working conditions.

To provide some important context: last year the joint unions (UCU, Unison, Unite, GMB and EIS) met with Universities and Colleges Employer Association (UCEA) at Acas to negotiate terms of reference to form working groups on the pay-related elements of our 'Four Fights' claim: workload, casualisation, pay spine reform, and equality pay gaps.

These terms of reference were rejected by UCU members in an electronic consultation held in April 2023. But this does not mean that the joint unions have stopped trying to find a way forward to tackle the enormous problems in the higher education sector. Specifically, your elected negotiators have been working on revising those terms of reference, which have now been agreed by the joint unions and submitted to UCEA.

Once UCEA have agreed to these revised terms of reference, then negotiations can begin on the pay-related elements of our dispute. I anticipate that this will happen soon.

The negotiators have also been working with the joint unions on the 2024/25 pay claim. The claim has been submitted to UCEA ahead of the first meeting of the New JNCHES (the formal negotiations between the employers and joint unions), which will take place next week.

I will provide more updates on the 2024/25 pay claim as soon as possible. I also wish to remind you that, following the survey last year on the future strategy for winning in higher education and decisions made by the elected representatives on the higher education committee (HEC), the union will be undertaking an extensive engagement exercise with members to devise a long-term strategy. I will be visiting UCU branches across the UK to take members' input; I want your views to be at the heart of every decision we take as a union.

I will email you with more details about this after Easter. I wish you and your family a restful break. 

In solidarity 

Jo Grady 
UCU general secretary

Last updated: 27 March 2024