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Employers table realistic, responsible and credible pay offer of 0.3%

Employers table realistic, responsible and credible pay offer of 0.3%

UCEA, Unison, Unite, GMB, UCU and EIS met today (27 April 2009) as New JNCHES for the second meeting of HE pay negotiations for 2009-10. 

The employers’ pay offer, of 0.3% for the next year, is a realistic, responsible and credible figure under the current circumstances.  This offer is in addition to the incremental payments equal to 3% that the majority of HE staff will receive. This decision was made following extensive consultation with HE institutions, all of which are operating in an exceptionally difficult economic climate. 

The exceptional pay awards under the 2006-09 pay deal runs to 1 August 2009. HE staff will 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 2008, was by far the highest increase to staff pay in the public services during 2008.

New JNCHES has no jurisdiction to negotiate or regulate jobs in the sector – the employment of staff is a matter for each independent HE institution in the sector. UCEA informed the meeting that member institutions share unions’ concerns about job security – but have to remain sustainable.  This is why employers have taken The Budget outcomes into account and cannot, in national pay negotiations, increase risks to job security. The employers expect a constructive dialogue on this issue to continue.


Background notes to Editors:

UCEA response to Trade Union claims submitted to New JNCHES for 2009-10 Pay Negotiations

Additional background notes:

  • The employers’ tabled offer of 0.3% reflects a very detailed and careful analysis and consultation of what is realistic, responsible and sustainable. HE institutions are no more immune from the impact of the financial turmoil than any other sector and, as well as the extremely difficult and volatile economic climate, there are a range of additional factors influencing negotiations, including funding and grant allocations, student numbers and increases in employers’ contributions to pensions. This month’s Budget has also seen cuts in excess of £400million to HE funding in England, with significant cuts yet to be confirmed for Scotland, Wales and via the NHS training budget.
  • Approaches to job security and the management of potential redundancy are matters for an individual employer. However, UCEA shares unions’ concerns about job security and this is why employers need to be particularly cautious about managing costs and balance considerations about increases in remuneration-pay and pensions against HE institutions’ sustainability. Employers have to find the money to fund 3% incremental rises and increases in pension fund contributions. Furthermore, this did not arise as a tabled issue within a claim at the first New JNCHES meeting – again making UCU’s ballot for industrial action premature as well as inappropriate.
  • The sector’s priority must be to protect the interests of students and minimise the effects of unnecessary industrial action, which should always be a last resort.  We urge UCU to also put students first by refraining from what appears to be preparation for unnecessary and first rather than last-resort industrial action. 
  • UCU wrote to all HEIs and UCEA’s Chair, Professor Bill Wakeham, on 8 December presenting its 2009 pay claim.  The claim is for RPI at June 2009 plus 5%, or 8% whichever is the greater.  UCU’s claim remained on the table when they signed up to New JNCHES in March 2009.
  • New JNCHES, which took two years to arrange, is the only national forum within which a national pay claim can be considered.  This forum allows for three negotiating meetings and more if required.  The expectation is that the employers’ position is articulated at a formal meeting of New JNCHES, not outside of the process.  UCU’s decision to ballot for industrial action before the employers’ position was articulated (on 27 April) is premature, inappropriate and out of a process that they had signed up to less than one month before.
  • The New JNCHES negotiating timetable is a process that runs across three meetings in March, April and May.  The timetable allows ample time for the parties to explore the issues thoroughly in this particularly challenging economic climate and reach a negotiated settlement well in advance of the pay award date of 1 August 2009.

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