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UCEA urges unions to consider the affordability of their pay claim

UCEA urges unions to consider the affordability of their pay claim in a context of financial challenge

UCEA and the HE trade unions* met today (19 April 2010) as New JNCHES for the second meeting of HE pay negotiations for 2010-11.  UCEA discussed further the unions’ joint claim for 4% plus other elements.  The need to calculate the cost of all elements of the claim was emphasised. 

UCEA explained further the difficult and uncertain economic background and highlighted that the cost of the 4% element of the claim would be around £500m.  Against the background of cuts in sector funding (£900 million in England alone) the employers again invited the trade unions to consider how a modest pay increase (a quarter percent) might be applied if not consolidated. 

UCEA acknowledge trade unions’ concerns about job security issues.  Against the background that decisions on staffing can only be taken at the individual institution level, employers drew attention to the Acas Digest on job security, developed during the 2009 pay negotiations, encouraging dialogue and understanding of important issues facing institutions considering staffing matters. This Digest was distributed last month.

Employers indicated a willingness to explore further trade union ideas on training and development.  They also drew attention to other aspects of their claim already being progressed through three Joint Working Groups**, which have just started work, for example looking at the systemic issues behind the gender pay gap.

The employers’ approach is set against an exceptionally difficult economic climate with institutions facing serious financial challenges and uncertainties relating to income.  Sector pay has improved considerably in recent years; including a base pay rise of at least 16.4% from 2006-07 to 2009-10.  This, alongside the significant rise in employer pension contributions and in built pay bill costs such as annual increments, has put added pressure on HEIs’ budgets.


* EIS, GMB, UCU, Unison and Unite
** These joint working groups 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.


For further information:
Please contact Andy Fryer, Communications Manager ( or Marc Whittaker, Communications and Events Officer ( on 020 7383 2444.

For more background information see the 2010-11 Pay Negotiations pages

Notes to Editors

  • The New JNCHES negotiating timetable is a process that runs across three meetings in March, April and May.  This forum allows for three negotiating meetings (more if required), the first was 29 March, the next is 5 May.
  • Staff have benefited from excellent pay awards in recent years equating to a cumulative total of at least 16.4% from 2006-07 to 2009-10. Between 2002 and 2009 (which included pay modernisation under the Framework) HE teaching professionals’ average earnings increased by 35.8% (44.5% all staff) compared to 30% in the whole economy (ASHE) and against 20% RPI over the period. Full-time HE teaching professionals’ earnings in April 2009 were £50,091 at the mean (£46,243 at the median). For details see the Spring 2010 Facts and Figures Briefings.