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Employers amplify joint work offer alongside above inflation pay increases

17 September 2015

UCEA statement, 17 September 2015:

Employers amplify joint work offer alongside above inflation pay increases

Background

The university employers (UCEA) made a full and final offer for the 2015-16 pay round at the final negotiating meeting held on 12 May. The first New JNCHES negotiating meeting took place on 26 March with a constructive exploration on the core components of the trade unions’ linked pay and ‘pay equality’ claims and the challenging context for the HE employers. These detailed discussions continued across four meetings. The final offer is for a base pay uplift of between 2.65% and 1% (the larger increases are on the first eight points of the national pay spine)1 against a backdrop of CPI at 0.1%2. Two of the trade unions (UNISON and GMB)3 have emphatically accepted the offer, but three (UCU, Unite and EIS) rejected it and invoked the Dispute Resolution procedure. The procedure requires at least two meetings to seek to resolve the dispute. The first Dispute Resolution meeting took place on 7 September. The second and final meeting took place today (17 September). At this meeting the employers reiterated the final offer on pay and amplified the offer of joint work on gender pay and casual employment – important issues to employers and trade unions alike – in a bid to seek a resolution for the three unions in dispute.

Statement

Helen Fairfoul, Chief Executive of UCEA, said:

“Discussions seeking to resolve the 2015 pay round with three of the five trade unions concluded today (Thursday 17 September) at the second dispute resolution meeting. The employers presented full details today of joint work being offered to the trade unions on important equality issues raised in their 2015-16 claim. The employers explained to all of the trade unions why the above inflation offer on base pay for 2015-16 remains unchanged; with concerns over financial challenges for HE institutions increasing rather than diminishing.

“The employers believe the offer to be a good one, worth between 1% to 2.65% on base pay, alongside other elements of pay progression4. It provides HE staff with the highest real-terms base pay improvement they will have seen in recent years, substantially exceeding CPI. UCEA has explained the new work on gender pay gap and casual employment we are offering to do jointly with the trade unions in a bid to reach a settlement. We have however indicated to the unions that should resolution of the dispute not be possible, UCEA would itself progress with this important work.

“Employers hope that there will be a good understanding among HE staff, and specifically among the members of the three disputing unions, that this offer is at the limits of what is realistic and affordable and that the basic pay uplift is just one element in the total pay, reward and recognition envelope. The final figure offered will be testing for many institutions’ finances as they all face increasing pension and National Insurance costs and further in-year funding cuts. Implementation of the award, due from 1 August, has already been delayed and we are also keen to start the joint work.”

1 With effect from 1 August 2015: For full details see the ‘Employers’ full and final settlement offer’ word document.
2 CPI stood at 0.1% in the year to July 2015, CPIH at 0.4%. RPI, no longer a national statistic, grew by 1.0%.
3 Members of UNISON and GMB have voted emphatically in ballots conducted in June to accept this year's above inflation pay offer.
4 Around half of employees covered by these negotiations are eligible to receive further increases through pay progression arrangements. The average cost of the 2015 pay increases will be around 2.5%, with some individuals eligible to receive a pay increase of around 4%.