2019-20 New JNCHES pay round

Full and final offer 2019-20

On 1 April 2020, following a series of meetings with UCU, UCEA developed a full and final modified offer, made 'without prejudice', to resolve the dispute over the 2019-20 New JNCHES round. The modified offer contained updates to the text relating to the non-pay items, but the headline uplift on pay for 2019-20 remained unchanged.  A copy of that offer, together with an accompanying letter from UCEA to UCU, is provided below. UCEA wrote again to UCU on 30 April 2020 to confirm that there would be no further negotiations with respect to the 2019-20 round. UCU consulted its branches on the final position before it's HE Committee (HEC) meeting on 27 May. UCU branches voted narrowly to reject the final offer but a proposal was taken to the HEC to consult UCU members on the offer, albeit with a recommendation to reject. No decision was made at the HEC and UCU organised another HEC for 8 June. The unanimous outcome of this meeting was a decision to consult UCU members on the UCEA final offer with a recommendation to reject. The new HEC will decide on the timeline for the consultation which is likely to be conducted by early July. If members vote to accept, UCU will automatically accept the offer. However if it is rejected, a sector conference will be called in the Autumn to determine UCU’s next steps.

Full and final pay offer April 2020

UCEA letter to UCU, 1 April 2020  

UCEA letter to UCU, 30 April 2020

Dispute reballots postponed while pending pay round paused - Covid-19

UCU decided to postpone the planned reballots, which were due to begin on 17 March, but keep ‘options for progressing the disputes under review’ while continuing to take action short of strike. This is not an end to the dispute, but UCU has  confirmed it will not resume the ballots by the end of June, but will consider at the Autumn sector conference should members vote to reject the final offer. 
The 2020-21 pay negotiating, due to start on 31 March, has also been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. UCEA and the five HE trade unions agreed to pause the start of the negotiations issuing this joint statement:

"Given the unprecedented disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, UCEA and the five HE trade unions (EIS, GMB, UCU, UNISON and Unite) agreed to pause the start of the negotiations.

Our joint statement recognised that the current threat posed by the Covid-19 is unprecedented and impacts the ability to conduct normal operations, including negotiations.

The decision on when to re-commence the negotiating round will be based upon a recommendation from the Union Side Joint Secretaries and the Chair and Chief Executive of UCEA, following Government announcements on the easing of restrictions, particularly in relation to travel and working arrangements.

This group has been monitoring the situation and regularly reviewing announcements from the UK Government and Devolved Administrations. The view of this group is that the restrictions which remain in place, specifically those requiring social distancing measures, mean that it is not yet possible to resume the negotiating round.

In the meantime, subject to the necessary easing of restrictions, UCEA is in the process of seeking indicative views from its member institutions."

An open letter from UCEA and UUK to staff

On 19 February UCEA and UUK published a joint open letter to all staff at universities affected by strike action. The letter provides an update on the significant progress to address concerns of university employees on pay, working conditions and pensions.
The letter is below and also on UUK and USS employers websites.
 An open letter from UCEA and UUK to staff

Release of a 'without prejudice' modified offer with positive proposals

This short leaflet summarises UCEA’s positive offer passed to the JNCHES trade unions on 27 January. The proposals present both institutional expectations and sector-level actions focusing on three important areas of employment raised in UCU’s dispute: contractual arrangements; workload and mental health; and gender pay gap and ethnicity pay. 
 Leaflet on UCEA's offer on contractual arrangements

We have composed a new succinct version aiming to relay: 

  • What the collective of JNCHES employers are proposing
  • How universities are progressing
  • Why trade unions need to consult their members 

 What employers are proposing

On 27 January 2020 UCEA passed to the trade unions the document below which sets out a series of expectations regarding the focus and nature of individual HEIs’ engagement on the three employment topics in UCU's dispute: gender and ethnicity pay, workload and casual employment arrangements. The document also sets out amplified sector-level work that UCEA is offering to do with the national trade unions.
It is presented as part of a potential composite JNCHES settlement for 2019-20. If agreed, UCEA would incorporate the positive proposals in the document as an alternative to what is currently presented at 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3 in the offer originally made in April 2019. UCEA has asked that all the trade unions consult with their members on the revised offer as a potential basis for conclusion of the 2019-20 JNCHES round. UCEA awaits the trade unions' responses.

 UCEA's Without Prejudice text shared with the Trade Unions on 27 January

UCEA dialogue with UCU

Members of UCEA's negotiating team have met for talks with UCU negotiators during November/December 2019 and January 2020.
UCEA issued statements after the meetings in November and December 2019 and has gathered input from the 147 HEIs participating in the 2019 round on the potential for fresh proposals for sector-level work on three issues within UCU's dispute: gender and ethnicity pay, workload and casual employment arrangements.

UCEA letter to UCU 

UCEA’s letter to UCU invited them to meet to discuss the potential to resolve their dispute, indicating that it is on the non-pay areas that we believe there is the scope for fruitful further dialogue on sector-level work. We acknowledge that UCU has pursued its campaign on three other important matters - around workload, gender pay/equality and casual employment arrangements. UCEA has been clear that it has no mandate from the 147 participating HE institutions to open discussions on the 2019 pay outcome though we have recognised in the letter that UCU will no doubt wish to raise this matter. There are no pre-conditions.
UCU has replied (19 November) and issued a media release

 UCEA's letter to UCU - 18 November 2019

UCEA/UUK open letter to staff at HEIs impacted by the UCU disputes 

From September to October, all five trade unions conducted ballots of their members for industrial action to take forward their dispute over the outcome of the JNCHES negotiations.

UNISON, Unite, EIS and GMB failed to secure sufficient member support on any of their ballots.

UCU decided to undertake 147 disaggregated ballots on its pay dispute and secured support for strike action and Action Short of a Strike at just 57 of those institutions. UCU’s subsequently issued notices of industrial action starting on 25 November at those 57 HE institutions on 5 November. UCEA has spoken to all the HEIs affected by the industrial action and the overwhelming feedback has been that the final pay outcome for 2019 was a fair and reasonable one, at the maximum affordable across the 147 employers for whom UCEA was negotiating collectively. 

UCEA has however informed UCU that we remain willing to have further discussions around potential sector-level work on the three items other than pay that form part of their dispute – gender pay, casual employment and workload - that their members clearly feel strongly about. 

On 19 November UCEA and Universities UK - the respective lead bodies on pay and USS pensions – wrote an open letter to all staff at the institutions where the UCU is planning industrial action on either or both of their pay and USS disputes. In the letter, UCEA and UUK set out the various steps employers have taken to protect the value of pay and pensions for their staff. They reiterate that they continue to talk to UCU and seek a way forward which avoids industrial action but that they do not agree with UCU’s claim that their members have been “forced” to take industrial action.

 Open letter from UCEA and UUK to staff re UCU's disputes - 19 November 2019

Final offer

UCEA representing the employers made a final offer - on pay and non-pay issues - at the third negotiating meeting on Tuesday 30 April 2019. A slightly amended version was represented on 25 July 2019 at the end of the New JNCHES dispute resolution process:

 New JNCHES final offer

Over the course of the previous two negotiating meetings, UCEA responded to all elements of the unions' claim. The full responses are set out in the document below:

UCEA responses to all elements of the unions' claim 2019-20

Implementation of pay outcome

During July UCEA and the five HE trade unions met for dispute resolution meetings.

On 9 August 2019 UCEA advised the employers participating in the 2019-20 New JNCHES pay round that it regards the pay negotiations as concluded and that they should implement the pay uplifts offered with effect from 1 August 2019 as and when their payroll systems will allow. The advice to implement follows the conclusion of the dispute resolution process and consultation with the UCEA Board in light of there being no indication that a settlement is achievable with UCU, EIS, UNISON, Unite and GMB.

Joint trade unions' claim

The unions submitted their joint claim for 2019-20 on 19 March 2019. An updated version (below), containing an addendum, was provided on 26 March 2019. 

Trade Unions' Joint Pay Claim 2019-20

List of participating HEIs 19-20 

This list of 146 HEIs was shared with the unions at the first negotiating meeting on 26 March. 
List of participating HEIs 2019-20

Meeting dates

The negotiating meetings for the 2019-20 round were held on:

  • Tuesday 26 March 2019
  • Thursday 11 April 2019
  • Tuesday 30 April 2019

Employers' Statement

UCEA set out the context and challenges in the following Employers' Statement presented at the start of the negotiations.
New JNCHES Negotiations 2019-20 Employers' Statement