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Employers feel that the fair and final offer should now have the careful consideration it deserves

UCEA and the HE trade unions1 met yesterday (19 May 2016) for the second of the two New JNCHES dispute resolution procedure meetings in the HE pay negotiations for 2016-172.

UCEA provided extensive details of all aspects of the fair and final offer. These included 1.1% on base pay at more than triple the current inflation level3, bringing the average increase for the staff group covered to 2.7%, extra for the lower paid and full proposals for new and significant joint work on two important issues; the gender pay gap and casual working arrangements.

UCEA and HE institutions would now like to see UCU join UNISON, Unite, GMB and EIS in allowing their members to consider all aspects of the final pay offer.

The final offer4 has sought to address positively all the key elements of the trade unions’ joint claim. Alongside an above inflation base uplift for all, there is substantially more for those on the lower pay points with an uplift that brings the hourly-rate on the lowest pay spine point to £1.05 above the new National Living Wage5. The lowest paid will actually see an increase of £729 per annum or 5.1%, with the hourly-rate on the new lowest pay spine point meeting the voluntary Living Wage Campaign rate. Coupled with the progression and contribution pay increases that around half the employees covered are eligible to receive, the final offer means an average pay increase across the sector of around 2.7%, with extra for those on the lower points.

While HE institutions are dismayed by UCU’s threat of strike action and the potential for this to disrupt students’ education, they believe the vast majority of staff will be working to ensure minimum disruption. This final pay offer represents a significant investment, showing the high value that employers place in their staff in the face of an exceptionally challenging year of turbulence and increasing costs from other sources, including pension contributions, NI rises and the apprenticeship levy. 

Professor Sir Paul Curran, Chair of UCEA, said: “Having listened, considered and responded to the trade unions on all aspects of their claim the employers remain committed to the fair final offer they have made. We have explained that this offer is at, and for some beyond, a limit of affordability for HE institutions and the very best offer that will be available this year. All we seek now is for all the trade unions to put this offer to their members in full and within the context of a financially challenging year. All parties I’m sure share an interest in reaching a settlement that is both fair and sustainable for institutions, their staff and students.”

1 - EIS, GMB, UCU, UNISON and Unite

2 - Meeting in the Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff (JNCHES), the parties had originally agreed to meetings on 22 March, 28 April and 19 May, but the HE employers agreed to curtail the timetable and move to a final offer on 28 April at the express request of the joint trade unions. According to the New JNCHES Agreement, unions must invoke the New JNCHES Dispute Resolution procedure and take part in at least two dispute resolution meetings before taking industrial action. These took place on 18 and 19 May.

3 - The Government’s official measure of inflation, CPI, is currently 0.3%, see www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices

4 - Further details and the final offer are available on the ‘Current Pay Negotiations’ tab of the UCEA website alongside background documents. 

5 - The National Living Wage is at £7.20 an hour; for more information: www.livingwage.gov.uk. The offer will result in a minimum of £8.25 per hour for employees paid on the pay spine on a 35 hour week.
 

ENDS

For further information: Please contact Andy Fryer, Head of Communications and Membership (a.fryer@ucea.ac.uk) Call 020 7383 2444.

Notes to Editors

Visit the Current pay negotiations page for details surrounding the full Trade Union claim and the Employers’ Statement

Links to the two New JNCHES reports published in July 2015:

Joint report on gender pay identifies good practice in HE
Ground-breaking joint report on hourly paid and casual staff