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HE negotiations 2015-16

20 April 2015

Information on the national negotiations 2015-16.

The full text of the claim agreed by the five HE trade unions can be found in UCU circular HE246.


March 2015

No offer was made during the first meeting of the national negotiating body (JNCHES) on 26 March 2015 following the submission of the joint national claim. At the meeting the trade union side set out the details of the claim and the employers made an initial response. You can find more details in the March 2015 issue of HE News [250kb].

April 2015

The second meeting of JNCHES took place on 14 April 2015 and the HE trade unions again pressed their joint claim with the employers representatives.

The third meeting of JNCHES took place on 24 April 2015. During the meeting the employer's representatives made an offer in respect of the pay element of the claim of 0.9% to all pay points on the 51 point pay scale. This offer also has an additional adjustment designed to achieve an equivalent to the Living Wage for staff on the lowest points.

The employers are also keen to link any offer with text that refers to incremental pay progression and made repeated reference to systems of performance-related pay progression.

The trade unions expressed disappointment that the offer falls short of the sector's ability to pay and the loss in the value of pay over recent years and  the collective contribution made by staff to the sector's continued success.

The unions also reminded the employers that the National Framework Agreement sets out the normal expectation staff have with regards to incremental progression through the pay scale.

Read the full report in HE news 39 [203kb]

See also: UCU comment on higher education pay offer

May 2015

Employers' final offer

The final meeting of the 2015-16 year's national negotiating round took place on 12 May 2015. UCEA made a full and final offer, which is set out below.

Headline settlement final offer 2015/2016

Pay rates for non-clinical staff covered by HE national agreements will be increased by 1.0 per cent on all pay spine points with effect from 1 August 2015, save for points 1 to 8 where increases will be:

increases offered on points 1-8
Point% increase

This enables point 1 to equate to the current Living Wage Foundation figure.

Important Post-92 HEIs retaining separate London weightings are recommended to increase these by 1.0 per cent.

For the full report on the employers' final offer, including the pay equality elements, please read HE news 40, May 15 [97kb].

June 2015

Member consultation

Following discussion at UCU's annual HE sector conference in May, members in HE were consulted on the final pay offer for 2015-16 of 1% from university employers with a recommendation to reject the offer and vote for industrial action. The consultative e-ballot opened Wednesday 10 June and closed noon Thursday 25 June 2015.

The table below shows the result of the consultative ballot.

June 2015 consultative ballot results
 Pay offer 2015-16% response
Accept 46.5%31.9%
Reject 53.5%
For action short of a strike55.7%31.7%
Against action short of a strike 44.3%
For strike action 47%31.7%
Against strike action53%

The higher education committee (HEC) met on 26 June 2015 and decided the following;

  • members have rejected the final offer. UCU will write to the Universities and Colleges Employers Associate (UCEA) and invoke the joint negotiating committee dispute resolution procedure
  • HEC's view is that given the results of the consultative ballot at this time there are major risks in proceeding to a statutory ballot for industrial action now. UCU head office will organise four national/regional consultation meetings towards the end of September and report back to HEC on 9 October 2015
  • the meetings will enable branches to be consulted further on a pay campaign; arrangements and more details about these briefings to follow.

October 2015

UCU's higher education committee met in October 2015 and considered the feedback from a series of branch consultation meetings that took place in Glasgow, London, Birmingham and Manchester between 23 September and 2 October. The committee heard that there was a clear appetite to maintain pay as a key campaigning and negotiating issue.

After wide discussion the committee agreed the following:

HEC has agreed the following; to develop a campaign now and run it into and throughout the build up to the 2016 negotiating round (October 2015 - March 2016). Seek to develop and submit a joint claim early (January) and move to ballot and action in April or May based on a 2016 dispute, if the offer is unacceptable. UCU NOTES the outcome of 2015 and considers action in regards to 2016 only.

A ballot and action could take place in April or May or ballot over the summer for action at the start of new academic year autumn 2016.

The longer timeline enables a sustained period to campaign and link action to leverage over the 2016 claim and negotiating round and the final offer. UCU needs to seek agreement with the other HE unions to submit the claim early.

The committee also agreed:

  • that the 2015 final offer is NOTED
  • that this approach is communicated to branches and discussed with the other unions as a matter of urgency
  • that HEC delegates to the national negotiators the development of a campaign and possible industrial action timetable based on the agreed position
  • that HEC delegates to the chair the calling of a special HEC meeting to consider development and agree the claim for 2016.

Read the full report in  HE news 41, Oct 15 [130kb].

Last updated: 9 March 2021