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HE employers now look forward to unions consulting staff members on inflation-matching pay deal

UCEA has been disappointed to learn that the UNISON*, Unite and EIS unions will be moving to consult their members on the 2019-20 pay offer but with a recommendation that it be rejected. The final offer** made by UCEA at the closing meeting of New JNCHES pay talks on 30 April put a base pay increase on the table that matches or exceeds inflation for all the staff covered and offers considerable increases for those on the lower pay points.
 
A UCEA spokesperson said: “It is disappointing for all in the sector that, after three progressive meetings and a genuine attempt to balance the issues raised by the joint unions in their claim with  serious sector challenges, we see three of the unions’ national committees deciding to ask their members to reject the offer. The final offer delivers pay increases of between 3.65% and 1.8% to academic and professional services staff in 146 UK HE institutions. This means that all staff would see their base pay at least keep pace with inflation and those on lower pay points will receive an increase that significantly exceeds inflation***. HE employers feel it has been important to target higher increases to the lower paid who feel the cost of living most keenly. Most notably, the employers’ offer includes the removal of point 2 from the 50 point pay scale, enabling the lowest pay point, if used, to exceed the voluntary living wage of £9 per hour****.
 
“UCEA is very conscious that this final offer is already pitched at the very limit of what is sustainable across the collective HE employers who participated in these negotiations with another report of a significant rise in HE institutions reporting financial deficits today*****. We believe that the realities for institutions are well understood by their employees and we look forward to their giving the offer fair consideration.
 
“Pay increases for many will be higher still when pay progression is included; this is the case for three in five academic staff covered by these negotiations who are eligible for additional increases typically worth 3%, alongside half of the professional services staff. In meeting the prevailing level of inflation, the offer ensures that the national pay spine has maintained its value in real terms over the past six negotiating rounds*******. We hope that colleagues in our institutions, when they are formally consulted, will see this as a very good offer in the current context.”
 
 
 
Unite and EIS committees have also now met. UCU will make a decision on its consultation with members later this month.
 
** The full UCEA offer, including the joint work on the non-pay issues, is available on the UCEA website. The trade unions’ claim is also available on this page. Elements of the trade unions’ claim, such as the call for universities with different working weeks to change to a 35-hour working week,  are outside of the remit of the JNCHES pay negotiating machinery and UCEA has been clear where it has no role or no mandate from participating employers.
UCEA’s ‘Current pay negotiations’ website page hosts these documents and fuller details of the 2019-20 Pay Negotiations, including an explanation of the challenging context for HE employers
 
*** CPIH, the Government’s official measure for inflation including the costs of housing, currently stands at 1.8% (the figure for the 12 months to March 2019). Since March 2017 the official measure has been CPIH. Unlike CPI, it takes into account owner-occupiers' housing costs and council tax. The switch from CPI to CPIH was a result of a review of inflation measures by Paul Johnson from the IFS
 
**** The increased ‘voluntary living wage’ of £9 per hour was published by The Living Wage Foundation on 5 November 2018. The final offer means that in HEIs that use the lowest point, employees working a 35-hour week will be on a pay level that exceeds this rate. 
 
 
****** This offer will mean that there is an average individual increase of 3.4%. Three in five academic staff will, with pay progression added, be eligible to receive increases of 4.8% and over half of professional services staff.
 

Spine point (selected)

2013-14 (£)

2013-14 (real-terms £ 2019)

2019-20 (£)

Real-terms change to 2019-20 (CPIH)

3

14,344

15,804

16,736

6%

30

30,728

33,856

33,797

0%

51

57,031

62,837

62,727

0%

 

Notes
The Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff (JNCHES) is the national machinery for negotiating the uplift to the 50 point pay spine. UCEA represents the participating employers (146 have opted to participate this year) and negotiates with the five HE trade unions: EIS, GMB, UCU, UNISON and Unite.
The three scheduled meetings for 2019 took place on Tuesday 26 March, Thursday 11 April and Tuesday 30 April.
 
The Living Wage Foundation figures are important benchmarks, but they fail to recognise and reflect the provision of excellent wider reward packages in HEIs. These packages include valuable pensions provisions, enhanced sickness and maternity pay and above average holiday entitlement. 
 
  
ENDS
 
For further information: Please contact Andy Fryer, Head of Communications and Membership (a.fryer@ucea.ac.uk) or Marc Whittaker, Communications and Events Manager (m.whittaker@ucea.ac.uk). Call 020 7383 2444.