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UCEA's statement on the first meeting of New JNCHES pay negotiations on 29 March 2010

“UCEA and the HE trade unions* met yesterday (29 March 2010) as New JNCHES for the first meeting of HE pay negotiations for 2010-11.  UCEA received the unions’ joint claim of 4% plus a number of additional elements, pay-related and otherwise. 

UCEA discussed with the unions the difficult economic background and the details and costings of their claim.  Against the background of cuts in sector funding (£900 million in England alone) the employers invited the trade unions to consider how a modest non-consolidated pay increase (a quarter percent) might be applied.  This offer was made following a period of extensive consultation with HEIs. 

The employers’ approach is set against an exceptionally difficult economic climate with institutions facing serious financial challenges and uncertainties relating to funding.  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 has put pressure on HEIs’ budgets.”

* EIS, GMB, UCU, Unison and Unite



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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 being 29 March, the others being 19 April and 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 – 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 go to UCEA’s website:

• HE continues to provide highly regarded benefits, notably its pensions and incremental arrangements. 

Trade Unions continue to express understandable concerns over job security. It should be noted that:

• The Digest on job security, developed through Acas during the 2009 pay negotiations, encourages dialogue and understanding of important issues facing institutions considering staffing matters, including serious financial sustainability challenges. This Digest is a reference document specific to the HE sector. The Digest was distributed by employers and unions in March 2010.

• HE staff have some of the best employment frameworks in the UK. Decisions affecting jobs are never taken lightly at institutional level and would be considered against the backdrop of rigorous processes in place for staffing matters involving change.

• A recent (18 March 2010) Times Higher Education feature ‘Ready for the storm?’ made clear that, even prior to recent HEFCE and HEFCW funding cuts, sector finances were in far from good health. As the article makes clear:
David Edwards, director of Grant Thornton's not-for-profit advisory services division, says the financial survey suggests that 2008-09 was "the last of the good years": "Our concern is that despite a period of plenty, the sector is still in fragile shape to cope with the lean years to come," he says. "An average surplus for the sector of just 1.4 per cent is marginal at best, particularly when the primary source of income for the sector (funding council grants) is being cut, and the next highest (tuition fees) is capped. That gives the sector very little room to move, and despite efforts to bolster other areas of income, many institutions are going to have to look to cost savings to achieve financial sustainability."