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2016 - 17 Pay Negotiations

Multi-employer negotiating round 2016-17

Conclusion of the 2016-17 round
On 28 November 2016, four of the five trade unions in New JNCHES confirmed that they viewed the 2016-17 pay round as concluded. The 2016-17 settlement outlines the pay uplift and important joint work on gender pay gaps and on casual and hourly-paid staff:

2016-17 New JNCHES settlement

  • UNISON settled following a ballot for strike action; UCEA estimated a 22% turnout of members voting with a narrow majority (54%) saying they were willing to support strike action.
  • Unite settled following a ballot for strike action; UCEA estimated a turnout of around 25% of members voting with 55% saying they were not prepared to take strike action.
  • GMB has confirmed that it accepts the pay offer and views the round as concluded; it did not ballot its members for any action.
  • UCU has confirmed that it considers the 2016-17 negotiations to be concluded after 15% of UCU members voted in a consultative ballot. 57% of those voting voted against taking further industrial action and 52% of those voting agreed that the joint work offer should be taken forward by their union.
  • EIS is the only union that has not concluded the round; it continues to call on its 1,200 members in some Scottish HEIs to take action short of a strike. 

Implementation of the pay uplift 2016-17

On 24 August 2016 UCEA informed HE institutions participating in the 2016-17 pay round that they may prepare for implementation of the pay element of the draft New JNCHES settlement for 2016-17. This decision followed requests from participating HE institutions and consultation with the UCEA Board. 

Outcome of the dispute resolution procedure

The two meetings required of the dispute resolution procedure clause of the New JNCHES Agreement took place between members of the UCEA negotiating team and representatives of EIS, UCU, UNISON and Unite on Wednesday 18 and Thursday 19 May.

During the dispute resolution meetings the unions and employers discussed a wide range of issues. The employers emphasised the real value of the final pay offer as well ahead of inflation and providing increases of 1.6% or more to 45,000 staff employed on the lower pay points.

During the second dispute meeting, the employers modified one minor aspect of the final offer, in relation to the date by which spine point one would be removed. The offer (document dated 19 May 2016) now commits HE employers to delete spine point 1 by 1 April 2017:

Employers' final offer - 19 May 2016

The employers also presented several charts and resources to support the final offer:

The final pay offer on base pay set against prevailing inflation indices was discussed.
April 2016 inflation figures

This chart compares this year’s final offer with the 2014-15 settlement against prevailing inflation indices:

Real-terms value of 2014-15 pay award compared to 2016-17 final headline offer (1.1%)

The National Statistician’s concerns over RPI were discussed and his letter to Sir Andrew Dilnot was presented and UCEA explained its current multiple index approach given the weaknesses with all the current measures:

Letter from John Pullinger to Sir Andrew Dilnot - 9 March 2016

The final pay offer which, with progression and contribution pay for around half the employees covered, results in an average sector increase totalling 2.7% was compared to the current base and merit increases in the private sector - 2.5% in the last quarter – and public services increases mainly capped at 1%:

Pay awards in public services 2016-17 

The real terms decline in earnings since the 2008 recession was discussed as an issue that has hit the whole UK:

Real average weekly earnings in the UK since 2001

The real terms decline for HE staff set against professions across the whole UK economy since 2009 was discussed:

Real-terms change in weekly earnings CPIH

The way in which HE earnings have kept up over recent years and maintained their lead over wider economy comparators was discussed, with some of the latest 2015 data presented:

Hourly earnings of occupations in HE compared to the wider economy

Comparing teaching professionals pay

Pay ratios in HE

Dispute resolution procedure invoked by four trade unions

Following the conclusion and the announcement of the result of UCU’s statutory ballot on industrial action on the 4 May, the trade union gave notice of industrial action in the form of a two-day strike on Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 May, as well as action short of a strike (ASOS) in the form of working to contract from 25 May.

Following UCU’s announcement, UCEA also received notifications from EIS, UNISON and Unite that they too reject the final offer and wished to invoke the New JNCHES dispute resolution procedure. Each of these three unions announced consultation with their members with recommendations to reject and seeking members’ views on support for industrial action to seek to improve the outcome. GMB announced that it would consult its members on rejecting the final offer but did not enter the dispute resolution procedure.

Employers’ final offer

On Thursday 28 April, the employers’ made a final offer for the 2016-17 pay round, of 1.1% on all points, with higher uplifts to the lower points on the national pay spine, as follows:

  • Point 1 - 3.1% *  
  • Point 2 - 3.1%
  • Point 3 - 2.7%
  • Point 4 - 2.7%
  • Point 5 - 2.2%
  • Point 6 - 1.7%
  • Point 7 - 1.6%

* Spine point 1 is to be deleted within 8 months of implementation of the pay settlement (effective increase for individuals after the deletion will be 5.1%).

The final offer also includes joint work on gender pay gaps and on casual and hourly-paid staff. The full offer document is available to download:

2016-17 Employers' final offer presented 28 April

In addition, the employers confirmed that the trade unions' claim for a Scottish sub-committee would not be taken forward. A fuller paper was given to the trade unions on 27 April, explaining this position:  

Employer response to the TU claim for a Scottish sub-committee

UCU opens a ballot of its members for industrial action

On Thursday 14 April UCU opened a ballot of its members for industrial action, to run until 4 May. The UCU’s move to a dispute, over UCEA’s opening offer made at the first negotiating meeting, goes against the New JNCHES procedures agreed by all parties; the New JNCHES Agreement provides for a dispute being called only when progress through normal negotiations has been exhausted.UCEA’s media release UCEA responds to UCU's premature and damaging move to ballot for industrial action can be found in the news section of our website.

UCU invokes a procedural dispute

On Thursday 31 March UCEA received a letter from UCU (copied to the other four trade unions) seeking to lodge a New JNCHES procedural dispute and to invoke the New JNCHES dispute resolution procedure.

UCEA considered that this request should be refused, as no grounds were given for the dispute and scope for progress through normal negotiations had not yet been exhausted (as required within the New JNCHES Agreement). UCEA’s response to UCU was sent on Friday 1 April.

Both letters can be found below.

Letter from UCU to UCEA - 31 March 16

Letter from UCEA to UCU - 1 April 2016

Employers' opening offer 2016-17

The employers' opening offer was tabled at the New JNCHES negotiating meeting held on 22 March 2016.

Employers' opening offer 2016-17

Employers' Statement 2016-17

The employers' statement ahead the 2016-17 negotiations was submitted at the negotiating meeting on 22 March, outlining the context within which this year's negotiations are taking place.

Employers' Statement 2016-17

List of participating employers

List of participating employers at 6 April

Employers' supporting materials

Papers submitted by UCEA at the first negotiating meeting on 22 March 2016:

HEFCE blog on financial health of the HE sector

Re-presentation of table 8 of the unions' claim - staff cost increases 

Joint Higher Education Trade Union Pay Claim 2016-17

The pay claim submitted to UCEA on 11 March can be found below.

Joint Higher Education Trade Union Pay Claim 2016-17

Meeting dates

The parties to New JNCHES are scheduled to meet on the following dates for the 2016-17 negotiations:

  • Tuesday 22 March 2016
  • Thursday 28 April 2016
  • Thursday 19 May 2016

We held an initial meeting of exploratory talks with the five trade unions on 15 March 2016, but this was not a negotiating meeting.

Information for UCEA employers

Preparation for the 2016-17 Multi-employer negotiating round started in February with the commencement of UCEA's three-stage consultation with members.

HR Directors and other senior officers can access the UCEA Members' Guide to Negotiations in HE and briefing documents.

More information on the 2016-17 negotiating round will be published when available.

Previous negotiating rounds

Details of settlements from previous rounds and trade union pay claims can be found on the Previous Pay Settlements page.

For enquiries, please contact Sue Endean, Deputy Chief Executive or Nicola Carter, Head of HR Advice.

Page last updated August 2016