Fair pay, equal pay in HE

HE national negotiations 2018-19

The joint higher education trade union national claim has been agreed by the five HE trade unions - UNISON, Unite, EIS, GMB and UCU - and was submitted to UCEA in advance of the first negotiating meeting on 26 March.

The claim, which covers pay, equality, workloads and precarious contracts, is available here.

Pay & equality matters - poster [23kb]
Pay & equality matters - leaflet [60kb]
Fair pay, equal pay - poster [18kb]
Fair pay, equal pay - leaflet [30kb]


Industrial action ballot announced

Following the recent consultation on pay where HE members clearly rejected the employers' pay offer of 2%, the union's higher education committee has decided to call a dispute and ballot members on industrial action. The ballot will open towards the end of August and run to mid-October. We're calling for an improved pay offer and progress to address inequality and precarious employment across the sector.

Please help promote the campaign in your workplace with our posters and leaflets and make sure your personal and address details are up to date now so you receive your ballot papers safely in August. 

Higher education pay and equality consultation 

In a consultative ballot members in HE have voted to reject the employers' final below inflation pay offer of 2%, and have resoundingly indicated their support for industrial action in the latest campaign for pay and equality in higher education. 82% of members responding to the consultation voted to reject the offer and 65% said they were prepared to take industrial action in defence of their pay. The turnout was 47.7%.

The next step in the campaign is a comprehensive get out the vote campaign for a national strike ballot to open in August and close in October.

UCU to ballot higher education staff for industrial action over pay

Fair pay, equal pay: higher education eballot

In higher education the only aspect of salaries that is getting bigger is the gender pay gap. The employers' latest pay offer of 2% does nothing to restore ground lost against inflation (a real terms cut of 21% since 2010) or to address gender inequality or precarious employment in the sector. However, as reported in the news this week, it is clear that the excessive pay and perks of vice chancellors (VCs) and principals persists and the latest voluntary code is inadequate.

Please support UCU's campaign by voting in the UCU pay and equality consultation which opened this week.

HE members will have received an email earlier this week containing a unique link to vote. If you need to request a replacement, please use this link. 

Ballot opens: make sure you vote in the higher education pay ballot. Eligible members working in HE should have received an email 'UCU pay and equality consultation'.

UCU recommends that you vote to reject the offer for the following reasons:

  • 2% is well below the current rate of inflation which, as measured by the Retail Price Index (RPI), is currently 3.4%
  • 2% does nothing to restore ground lost against inflation since 2010 which UCU estimates to be 21% when pay settlements are cumulatively compared to rises in RPI
  • 2% reflects a continuing de-prioritisation of staff pay; while the proportion of university expenditure spent on staff has fallen to just 54.7%, reserves held by institutions have increased by 259% and capital expenditure by 34.9%.

In addition to their below inflation pay offer the employers have also made no meaningful proposals to address either the continuing casualisation of the HE workforce or gender pay inequality.

Higher Education Sector Conference 2018 resolved to ballot members for industrial action and to work jointly with the other trade unions and to call a Higher Education Sector Conference in the autumn on HE pay.

At the third and final negotiating meeting, held on 10 May 2018, the employers made a final composite offer and response on all elements of the joint trade union claim, including:

  • Pay: 2% increase for staff on spine point 16 and above. £425 for staff on spine point 15 and below.
    The pay offer falls disappointing short of the pay claim and pay continues to erode and fall behind comparable professions. The offer does not keep up with inflation or address the loss in pay over the last 10 years. It is in the bottom quartile of recent public sector settlements
  • Pay related matters: the offer on gender pay is that the current working group will continue and look at developing a survey and review action plans.
    Overall the offer ensures that gender pay is a priority JNCHES matters however it does little to immediately address the gender gap in HE
  • Precarious contracts: the offer is for limited work in regards to fixed term contracts and variable hour's contracts with a focus on data analysis.
    It falls way short of the action needed to urgently address wide spread precarious employment and improve security for the most vulnerable staff in the sector
  • Workload: the offer does not involve action to deal with excessive workloads or compensate members for the excessive hours worked. It does not recognise the decline in the rate for the job
  • Scottish JNCHES sub-committee: UCEA are not supportive of progressing the development of a Scottish sub-committee.

You can read the full offer in the national negotiators' report to the annual Higher Education Sector Conference 2018.

At the second meeting on 13 April, UCEA made an opening offer which is summarised below:

  • Pay - an increase to all spine points of 1.7% or £350 whichever is the greater.
  • Gender pay - some qualified further joint work (to be developed) on gender pay, building on the new work stream developed by the gender pay group established as result of last year's settlement.
  • Workload and excessive hours - UCEA rejected a monetary payment in recognition of the excessive hours worked. Hours of work are a locally determined matter but UCEA will consider how they may be able to comment further in this regard.
  • Precarious work - UCEA do not wish to progress a UK level action plan to tackle the wide spread use of exploitative contracts. UCEA have indicated a willingness to consider some work in regards to the most insecure contracts.
  • Scottish JNCHES - UCEA are not supportive of establishing such a fora. The trade union side has agreed to respond in detail before the final meeting.

The UCU negotiators' view is that this is a disappointing offer that falls short of even keeping the value of pay in line with the increases to the cost of living and does not address the serious and wide spread issues of pay inequality, workload and precarious employment in the sector.

On 26 March the first of the three scheduled negotiations took place. The trade unions side presented our claim and the employer's representatives at UCEA gave a response. UCEA confirmed they have a mandate to negotiate and will respond in detail to the unions claim, however it is disappointing to note that no opening offer was made.

Last updated: 6 July 2018