UCEA’s wait for a response from TUs continues while students bear the repercussions of the delay

23 August 2023

UCEA’s wait for a response from trade unions continues while remaining students bear the repercussions of the delay

It is nearly three weeks since UCEA wrote to UCU and the other unions with the employers’ proposal for Acas facilitated talks on the review of sector finances and important pay related matters raised in their claim; we have still not had an answer. While UCEA’s wait for a response from trade unions continues, it is unfair on those students yet to graduate, who are bearing the repercussion of their delay.  

The UCU MAB continues, impacting on some students in isolated institutions and academic departments*. The trade union, who chose this disruptive form of industrial action, has a moral obligation and responsibility to students as well as its own members to respond to UCEA’s offer for these important talks. Three weeks is a long time for a student who has been affected by MAB repercussions. 

It is perplexing that UCU has in the past days chosen to write to Heads of Institution, asking them to tell UCEA to negotiate when we have been waiting for UCU and the other trade unions for so long. While the reason for the delay has not been confirmed, employers are aware that infighting and indecision within UCU may provide signals. There is also concern arising over the potential impact regarding the serious disagreement between two of the five unions over a longstanding dispute over lack of pay uplift and redundancies. Unite, representing UCU staff, has now sent UCU notification to ‘ballot for industrial action’ (Unite UCU - https://twitter.com/uniteucu?s=43). We trust that this does not impact on UCEA’s proposals for Acas New JNCHES talks. 
We are also aware that at UCU’s National Branch Delegate Meeting on 11 August branch representatives were asked if their branches supported MAB as a continued industrial action and less than a third said they wanted it to continue after 30 September. Employers are calling upon UCU to make public the results of the UCU National Branch Delegate Meeting. 

Raj Jethwa, UCEA's Chief Executive said:

“UCEA continues to wait for a response to our proposal, made on 4 August**, for Acas-facilitated talks on the important pay-related matters raised by the UCU and the other unions. The trade unions had agreed to respond by 16 August; the weeklong wait allowed for UCU’s Higher Education Committee (HEC) in which they decided to once again try and target students with industrial action.

“This lack of response to UCEA’s proposals to resolve the dispute is in direct contradiction to UCU's ongoing false claims that 'universities as employers refuse to negotiate'***. Three weeks is an unfair and very long time for a student who has been affected by suffering MAB repercussions and seeking to progress in life.

“UCEA’s proposal includes reform of the pay spine, action to further reduce pay gaps, discussions on workload and more work on the use of contract types. Alongside the now agreed independent review of sector finances, this is a substantial package of joint work which employers and unions could usefully be progressing together.

“UCU's HEC has made an extremely disappointing decision and while UCEA respects the right of workers to take industrial action, the choice of the marking and assessment boycott is extremely concerning. UCU must be honest with its members about the fact that while further pay uplift in the 2023-24 pay round is not possible there is much more to negotiate and progress that is vital to trade unions and employers alike.”

* Results from our most recent survey of member HEIs can be found at www.ucea.ac.uk/our-work/collective-pay-negotiations-landing/2023-24-new-jnches-pay-round/
** www.ucea.ac.uk/our-work/collective-pay-negotiations-landing/2023-24-new-jnches-pay-round/
*** www.ucu.org.uk/article/13141/More-strike-action-to-hit-universities-as-employers-refuse-to-negotiate and 


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)