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Current Pay Negotiations

Multi-employer negotiating round 2015-16


Conclusion of the pay round

The 2015-16 pay round has now concluded and participating HEIs have been advised that they can implement the pay award. The award is an increase of 1% on all the New JNCHES single pay spine points, save for points 1 to 8 where the New JNCHES single pay spine points will have higher increases of between 1.2% and 2.65%. The award also includes two further pieces of joint working. Full details are in the draft settlement document below.

Draft New JNCHES pay settlement 2015-16

The conclusion of the round comes after member consultations by UCU, Unite and EIS after the Dispute Resolution procedure.

  • UCU and Unite both agreed to “note” the pay offer and both unions view the round as conclude.
  • EIS decided that it could not settle the round given that its members voted in a consultative ballot in the early summer, by 75% to 25%, to reject the final offer (on a turnout of 32%). EIS now proposes to ballot its members in Scotland for “sustained strike action”. Our understanding is that if EIS members vote against strike action then EIS will conclude the round.

UCEA members can download a copy of the 2015-16 pay spine.

Dispute resolution procedure

The UCEA negotiating team and the three trade unions that were in dispute held two Dispute Resolution meetings on 7 September and 17 September. UNISON and GMB also attended as observers only, as their members had voted overwhelmingly to accept the final pay offer.

At the meetings, UCEA articulated again the various constraints and pressures on the sector that limit the employers’ ability to offer a higher base pay uplift to the New JNCHES pay spine. The level of the final pay offer remained unchanged. However, UCEA provided detail of the offer of joint work relating to the gender pay gap and to casual and hourly paid staff:

Joint work proposals on pay equality

The trade unions welcomed the document and expressed their keenness for further joint work in these two important areas. However, they expressed disappointment that the employers were unable to move on the pay offer. The unions proceeded to consult their members again.

Wednesday 22 July  - Trade unions’ responses and next steps

We have now heard from all five trade unions with regard to the final offer and can confirm that EIS have rejected the offer and are invoking the Dispute Resolution Procedure alongside UCU and Unite. No details of the consultation process conducted by EIS have been provided.

It is now looking likely that the first Dispute Resolution meeting will take place in early September with  a second one mid-September. The two unions not in dispute (UNISON and GMB) are invited to attend the meetings as observers.

Thursday 2 July - Trade unions’ responses to the final offer

We have now heard from four of the five trade unions with regard to the final offer.

UCU’s Higher Education Committee (HEC) has decided that the ballot result is sufficient to record a rejection of the offer and UCU will ask for the New JNCHES dispute resolution procedure to be invoked. In their consultative ballot of UCU members, with a turnout of just under 32%, 53.5% voted to reject the offer. The consultative ballot also asked members to indicate their support for both strike action and action short of a strike (ASOS), making it clear that members would need to support both if the union was to pursue a dispute. 55.7% of their members voting indicated that they would be prepared to take ASOS. However, when asked about strike action 53% of the members voting said they would not be prepared to take strike action. For UCU’s ballot result in full see the UCU website. 

UCU have indicated that they will organise regional meetings in September and their HEC will meet on 9 October to receive a report from these meetings and decide on a way forward.

UNISON members have voted to accept the offer by a significant majority of 72%.

Unite have advised that, following a branch consultation, they are rejecting the offer. There are no details at the present time on the number of branches who voted for or against the offer.

GMB has confirmed that its members have voted to accept the pay offer by a ratio of 2:1.

We are advised that EIS is not in a position to provide feedback on its consultation on the final pay offer until the union has held a meeting, to be organised in the week commencing 6 July.

It is anticipated that the disputes resolution process will be requested by UCU and Unite. Employers will not be in a position to implement an award before that process is concluded.

We will make updates to this page as further detail of the trade unions’ consultations is given to us and a timescale for the disputes procedure is developed.

Monday 8 June - Update on trade union responses to the final offer

Following the UCU annual Congress held in late May, UCEA was advised that the Higher Education Sector Conference had amended the recommendation initially made in the negotiators’ report to say that a recommendation to reject the offer and pursue industrial action should be made when the final pay offer was put to UCU members for consultation. The consultative ballot is to commence in early June, and run until around 18 June. UCU will consider the result of the consultative ballot at its HE Committee meeting scheduled on 26 June.

GMB has informed UCEA that its HE committee will carry out a consultative ballot and make no recommendation regarding the final pay offer. The GMB consultative ballot will conclude by 26 June.

Unite’s national sector committee met on 2 June and decided that it would conduct a consultative ballot with its members via branches without a recommendation; this will conclude on 26 June.

The EIS-ULA executive met on 27 May and agreed to conduct a consultative ballot of its members with a recommendation to reject the final pay offer. This will conclude by 26 June.

UNISON's higher education service group executive met on 18 May and decided to consult UNISON members across the UK, without a recommendation. In its media release it states that the service group executive agreed that the offer is "the best that can be achieved by negotiation and that any improvement will only be secured by sustained strike action". UNISON’s consultation with its members opened on 20 May and will conclude on 26 June.

This webpage will be updated to reflect further developments.

Tuesday 12 May 2015

The fourth negotiating meeting of New JNCHES for 2015-16 took place on 12 May 2015. Following detailed discussions a  full and final offer was made, on both the pay and ‘pay equality’ claims. The offer provides  a general base pay uplift of 1% from 1 August 2015 on all points, save for points 1 to 8 where higher base increases have been offered. The offer includes proposals for two particular new pieces of joint work on matters relating to gender pay gap and to casual and hourly paid staff. This is subject to the successful conclusion of the on-going joint work agreed in the 2014-15 settlement. During the meeting the employers presented a chart (below) to illustrate the significant real terms value of this offer in the context of current (March 2015) inflation measures, comparing this with the lower real terms value of last year’s settlement (set against March 2014 inflation measures).

The five trade unions advised that they would each be reporting the outcome of this year’s JNCHES negotiations to their various committees or other bodies in the period up until the beginning of June. We do not yet know when or how any of the unions may put the final offer to their members for consultation.

UCEA15038 (attachment) - Employers' full and final settlement offer

UCEA15038 (attachment) - Real-terms value of offer compared to last year - 12 May 2015

Friday 24 April 2015

The third New JNCHES meeting for 2015-16 took place on 24 April. Following full and detailed discussions an offer was made. This pay offer seeks to address all elements of the trade unions’ joint pay claim, providing a general uplift at or above inflation of 0.9% with additional loading on the first 8 points of the pay spine taking the increase up to 2.6%, meaning that point 1 of the 51 point spine would cut to ‘the Living Wage’ at 35 hours per week. A context for the employers’ offer is the availability of additional pay increases through progression available to around half of the sector’s employees covered by these negotiations. The employers asked for re-familiarisation with the principles in the 2003-04 Framework Agreement guidance on pay progression and review as appropriate of established procedures.

The trade unions are considering the offer and the negotiations are set to conclude at the final scheduled meeting on Tuesday 12 May. 

Tuesday 14 April 2015

This paper was tabled at our negotiating meeting on 14 April to demonstrate the value of two aspects of the HE reward package at point 1 on the pay spine in hourly terms. The paper looks at sick pay and holiday pay arrangements over and above statutory provisions often provided by HEIs.

Tabled 2 - Estimating the value of the HE reward package

Employers' statement 2015-16

The following documents present the key contextual issues for employers in the 2015-16 negotiations. These were given to the trade unions one day prior to the first negotiating meeting on 26 March 2015: we have included the Employers’ statement, background  material and a one page summary which was tabled at the meeting. We also include a list of participating HEIs.

UCEA15025 (attachment) - Employers' statement

UCEA15025 (attachment) - 15-16 Employers' statement background material

UCEA15025 (attachment) - Employers' summary points for 26 March

UCEA15025 (attachment) - List of participating employers

UCEA15025 (attachment) - UCEA Communications Briefing - start of 2015-16 Pay Negotiations 26 March 2015.docx

Trade union claim 2015-16

The Joint HE trade unions submitted two linked national claims, one for pay and one for pay-related equality matters, on Thursday 19 March. These can be found below.

Joint Higher Education Trade Union Pay Claim(6)

Joint Higher Education Trade Union Pay Equality Claim (6)

For contextual information on pay in HE please see the UCEA infographics on pay.

Meeting dates

The parties to New JNCHES are scheduled to meet on the following dates for the 2015-16 negotiations:

  • Thursday 26 March 2015
  • Tuesday 14 April 2015
  • Friday 24 April 2015
  • Tuesday 12 May 2015

Information for UCEA Employers

Preparation for the 2015-16 Multi-employer negotiating round started in February with the commencement of UCEA's three-stage consultation with members - see UCEA Update 15:003 circulated on the 8 January 2015.

HR Directors and other senior officers can access the recently revised UCEA Members' Guide to Negotiations in HE via this page of the website and briefing documents via this page of the website.

More information on the 2015-16 Multi-employer negotiating round will be published when available.

For enquires please contact Sue Endean or Nicola Carter

Page last updated October 2015