Fair pay, equal pay in HE

HE national negotiations 2019-20

The higher education (HE) joint trade union claim 2019/20 has been agreed by the five HE unions - EIS, GMB, Unison, Unite and UCU and was submitted to Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) on 19 March 2019. It can be found here.

The joint union claim covers the key UCU policy issues on pay, gender pay, precarious contracts and workloads. Branches and members are encouraged to discuss the claim and updates on the progress in the negotiations will follow.

Updates

The UCU HE national negotiating team for 2019/20 has now been confirmed, and includes Vicky Blake, Mark Abel and Jo McNeil (Higher Education Committee chair and vice chairs) and four negotiators elected by HE sector conference at the end of May: Joanna de Groot, Marian Meyer, Robyn Orfitelli and Sean Wallis. You can contact the negotiators through UCU head of HE, Paul Bridge.

UCU general secretary-elect, Jo Grady, updates on the simultaneous strike ballots over pay and USS planned for September.

UCU's higher education committee (HEC) met on 28 June and set out a timetable for that ballot on pay and also for a ballot on USS pensions to run at the same time.

The ballots will run from Monday 9 September to Wednesday 30 October and the union's HEC will meet to consider the results on Friday 1 November. The ballots will be disaggregated so each institution will be polled separately.

Universities on strike warning as UCU announces pay and pension ballots

At the annual UCU congress meeting in Harrogate delegates voted for an industrial action ballot in the autumn on the issues of precarious employment, pay inequality, workload and salary erosion in higher education. This follows the employers' refusal to engage properly with the union's national claim beyond offering a below inflation pay increase of 1.8%. 

The next step is that UCU's higher education committee (HEC) will meet on 28 June to agree the substance of and timetable for the national campaign. You can read the pay claim presented to the employers here.

UCU branches will continue to campaign locally to exert pressure on employers to tackle the issues of casualisation, workload and inequality. We will provide a full report to members following the HEC meeting.

The national negotiators' have produced a report for the higher education sector conference being held at the end of the month, which includes recommendations on motion HE1 on HE pay. Branches have been asked to consider the report and its recommendations and circulate to members.

The third and final negotiating meeting took place on Tuesday 30 April.

UCEA offered a slightly improved headline pay offer which means which means 1.8 % for UCU members. The offer also means and higher tapering to bottom of spine from point 15 downwards and spine point 2 is removed; 1.8% meets the current consumer price index including housing (CPIH) measure of inflation but not retail price index (RPI).

UCEA also made a limited improved offer of joint work on gender pay and intersectional issues in the form of reviewing existing data and looking a new data however this falls short of action plans and JNCHES reviews as set out in the claim.

On precarious contracts the offer is for limited work on data and zero hours guidance but again no action orientation and role for JNCHES on reviewing local agreements.

The employers made no meaningful offer on workload.

UCU's negotiators expressed their disappointment with the offer and confirmed it will be considered by HE sector conference at the end of the month.

 



The second negotiating meeting took place on 11 April. The national employers' representatives marginally improved the headline pay offer to 1.5% for UCU represented grades, which was tapered slightly higher for those in the lowest grades on the pay spine. UCEA made no meaningful offer in regards to the pay equality elements of the claim: a national agreement on closing the gender pay gap and addressing intersectional issues; UK level joint action to deal with widespread casual contracts in the sector; and an agreement to tackle excessive working hours. UCEA re-confirmed that they do not have a mandate from employers to deal with gender pay, precarious employment or workloads at the JNCHES negotiations.

UCU's negotiators expressed their frustration with the UCEA pay offer which means another below inflation increase for members. On pay equality, the negotiators expressed concern that in UCEA were deliberately restricting JNCHES and that this was not acceptable or sustainable.

The final meeting takes place on 30 April. Branches and members will be updated after the meeting.
 

The higher education trade unions met the employers at the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association (UCEA) on 26 March for the first New JNCHES pay negotiation meeting for 2019/20. The joint trade unions presented their claim and pressed the employers to reverse the decline in members pay as well as addressing gender inequality, precarious contracts and workload.

The employers made the following statement:

'The employers open the negotiations, on behalf of the participating universities, with an initial envelope for discussion of 1.3% across all the elements of the pay claim.'

The unions note the employers opening position which falls far short of the unions' claim. The negotiations continue on 11 April, the unions are looking forward to receiving an improved offer which provides a fair pay rise, and addresses all elements of the pay claim.

Last updated: 5 July 2019