Union disputes 2023-24

Current position of the five trade unions

UCU rejected the 2023-24 New JNCHES pay outcome and have taken industrial action under the 2022-23 dispute. On 11 September 2023 UCU gave formal notice of a statutory ballot for industrial action over the 2023-24 New JNCHES pay outcome. The aggregated ballot of 143 HEIs was for the same forms of industrial action as the 2022-23 dispute, including action short of strike (ASOS) comprising:

  • a marking and assessment boycott
  • working to contract and not undertaking any voluntary activities
  • not covering for absent colleagues
  • removing uploaded materials related to and/or not sharing materials related to, lectures or classes that will be or have been cancelled as a result of strike action
  • not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action.

The ballot opened on 19 September and closed on 3 November. 68,000 of UCU's members were entitled to vote in the ballot and 28,964 votes were cast, representing a turnout of 42.6%. Of those who voted,  68.3% voted in favour of strike action and 75.6% voted in favour of ASOS. The ballot result means that UCU did not meeet the minimum threshold and did not secure a mandate for either strike action or ASOS.

UNISON rejected the 2023-24 New JNCHES pay outcome. UNISON balloted 41 of the 144 participating HEIs for strike action and secured a mandate at 22 of the HEIs it balloted. UNISON has taken strike action at all the HEIs where it had a mandate. Most HEIs experienced strike action of between two and five days. 

On 16 November UNISON announced a re-ballot at 16 HEIs in England and Scotland to extend its current and recently expired mandates for strike action over the 2023-24 pay dispute. The ballot opened on 29 November and will close on 19 February 2024 - please see link to UNISON's webpage for list of affected HEIs.

Unite rejected the 2023-24 New JNCHES pay outcome and have balloted or are balloting 18 HEIs for industrial action on a disaggregated basis. The ballots which closed in Scotland on 21 August resulted in Unite securing a mandate at five of the ten HEIs it balloted. Unite have secured a mandate at four HEIs in England. Unite have taken between five and eight days of strike action at seven of the nine HEIs where it holds a mandate with further industrial action in November of between two and four days at three of the HEIs where it holds a mandate.

EIS undertook an aggregated ballot at 15 HEIs (see list of HEIs affected) over the 2023-24 New JNCHES pay outcome. The ballot was for industrial action comprising strike action and ASOS in the form of "work to contract' - withdrawal of goodwill (including stopping out of hours emails)". The ballot opened on 29 September and closed on 3 November. 1,247 EIS members were entiled to vote and 516 votes were cast, representing a turnout of 41.4%. Of those who voted, 74% voted in favour of strike action and 80.8% voted in favour of ASOS. This means that EIS did not meet the minimum ballot threshold and did not secure a mandate for either strike action or ASOS. 

GMB have conducted regional consultative ballots to determine whether to pursue industrial action in relation to the 2023-24 New JNCHES pay uplift but have not announced any statutory industrial action ballots.


On 24 February 2023 UCEA advised employers participating in the 2023-24 New JNCHES pay round that the pay negotiations had concluded.  New JNCHES 2023-24 pay negotiations were separated into two phases: Phase one - pay and Phase two - non-pay items. The advice to implement the pay uplifts followed the conclusion of the dispute resolution process on the pay negotiations with the five HE trade unions. UCEA informed HEIs that they should proceed to implement the pay outcome after the period of calm which ended on 5 March 2023. Employers were asked to implement the pay uplifts offered with effect from 1 February 2023 (the interim uplift), with the remainder to be implemented from 1 August 2023, as and when their payroll systems allow.

Acas talks on 14 March and terms of reference for Phase two of the JNCHES 23-24 negotiating round

On 14 March UCEA met with the trade unions in Acas facilitated talks to finalise the details of the terms reference (ToRs) for Phase two of the New JNCHES negotiations, the non-pay items. All parties agreed to consult their respective constituencies on the ToRs which were endorsed by the UCEA Board on 16 March. 

Please see UCEA's 2023-24 New JNCHES pay round webpage for subsequent correspondence between UCEA, the Joint Union Side Secretaries and UCU, including the most recent letters.