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UCEA's response to Unison members' decision to accept final pay offer

UCEA’s newly appointed Chair, Professor Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, welcomed Unison’s announcement today accepting the employers’ final pay offer. The acceptance of a 0.5% pay uplift for the year 1 August 2009 to 31 July 2010 for all HE staff followed extensive negotiation and consultation.

Commenting on the announcement, Professor Burnett said: “Unison has consulted carefully before agreeing to what is a realistic and responsible pay offer, particularly under current economic circumstances and in the context of recent HE pay increases. These are increasingly challenging times for higher education but we have to work together to overcome pressures and sustain this highly successful sector. We need to remember that this agreement isn’t just the employers’ offer to uplift pay by 0.5% but also to work with the unions on a range* of important HE issues - mainly raised by the unions - through joint working groups.”

UCEA, representing 153 HE employers, made its final offer on 15 July 2009 to the five HE unions: Unison, Unite, GMB, UCU and EIS. The remaining HE unions are currently concluding their internal consultation processes with respect to the offer. Employers continue to discuss Unite’s original rejection through Acas facilitated talks and await the outcome of the other unions’ consultative processes – each of which has different arrangements that may involve union executives, branches and members. The remaining outcomes are expected shortly and these will then be discussed by UCEA’s Board when it meets on 15 October.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

* In addition to the pay offer, employers offered to work with the trade unions on a range of issues (many of which were raised by the unions) through three joint working groups. These will cover:
• Joint work to take forward a range of equalities issues.
• Joint work to further evaluate pay modernisation through implementation of the Framework Agreement and to improve the collection of sector pay data.
• Joint work to increase understanding in relation to HE funding and sustainability issues affecting financial decision-making.

This offer is made against the following background:

• HE pay has improved considerably under the 2006-09 pay deal which ran to 1 August 2009. Staff have received minimum increases of 15.9% over three years and up to 26% if receiving increments. The 5% award made in 1 October 2008, after a 3% increase in May, was by far the highest increase to staff pay in the public services during 2008;
• The RPI inflation is now running at minus1.3%. This, when added to the increase of 0.5% gives a much larger real terms increase that certainly ensures that the recent pay improvements in HE will be maintained and not eroded.
• Employers are facing substantial cost pressures arising from pensions provision in the sector: contribution rates rose in the USS scheme by 2% (from 14% to 16%) in October 2009, and in many Self Administered Trusts, the Scottish TPS and LGPS schemes the employers’ contribution rates have also risen or will shortly do so.
• As amplified in the employers’ statement already presented to New JNCHES, HEIs are operating in an exceptionally difficult financial environment.

For access to the full timeline leading up to the current position in relation to the new national negotiating arrangements - New JNCHES: http://www.ucea.ac.uk/en/2009_Pay_Negotiations.

For further information, please contact: Andy Fryer, UCEA Communications Manager: a.fryer@ucea.ac.uk or Marc Whittaker, UCEA Communications Officer: m.whittaker@ucea.ac.uk Telephone: 020 7383 2444.