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Employers urge UCU to reconsider ill-judged and inappropriate ballot

Employers urge UCU to reconsider ill-judged and inappropriate ballot

Employers today (1 May 2009) urged UCU to re-consider an ill-judged and inappropriate ballot, aimed to disrupt the sector and its students at this early stage in the pay negotiation process.

Attempts by UCU to publicise this ballot on ‘job protection’ remain confusing to the sector as this is primarily a ballot about pay.  Employers recognise that, in comparison to the exceptional pay awards under the 2006-09 pay agreement and UCU’s 8% pay claim, 0.3% is a modest pay offer. But it is realistic and responsible; underpinned by a careful sector-wide analysis of what is affordable.

UCU warnings of a sector-wide ‘jobs meltdown’ are scaremonger tactics without figures to back-up their claims. Job security concerns all of us but the national negotiations machinery, New JNCHES, was established to negotiate national pay issues; jobs cannot be negotiated at a national level in a multi employer sector. Guarantees of job security are outside the gift of any employers’ association. The employment of staff is a matter for individual, autonomous HEIs working closely with their local recognised union representatives.

Professor Bill Wakeham, Chair of UCEA, said: “Industrial action should be the last and not the first resort.  UCU’s moves to ballot for industrial action remain premature, inappropriate and at odds with the New JNCHES process that they signed up to one month ago.  We urge UCU to remain with employers and the other HE unions around the national negotiation table to seek resolution through meaningful dialogue and the formal disputes procedure rather than through industrial action which is damaging to students and the sector.  The bedrock of long-term job security is financial sustainability.”

UCEA understands UCU intends to distribute ballot papers today.  This is despite many HE institutions, advising UCU of serious ballot deficiencies. UCEA continues to ask UCU to reconsider running this ballot.



Background notes to Editors:

HE staff have received minimum increases of 15.9% over the past three years and up to 26% if receiving increments.  The 5% award made in 1 October 2008, after a 3% increase in May 2008, was far higher than any increase to staff pay in the public services during 2008.

For access to the FULL timeline leading up to the current position in relation to the new national negotiating arrangements - New JNCHES - and the recent actions taken by UCU please go to . This link provides access to documentation and correspondence from all sides.  

For further information, contact:

Andy Fryer, UCEA Communications Manager: 020 7383 2444 or
Marc Whittaker, UCEA Communications Officer: 020 7383 2444 or