National pay claim 2013

    New Pay Rates – we settled for 2% to end the 2013 dispute. 

    New higher education pays rates come into force on 1st August 2014, following the earlier agreement over the pay award for 2014-15.

    The effect on the on the 51-point pay scale means that from 1 August:

    • pay rates for all staff covered by the higher education national agreement will be increased by 2%;
    • point 1 of the pay spine will be increased by a further £60 – bringing it in line with the living wage rate of £7.65 an hour in those institutions that have a 35-hour working week – equal to an increase 2.2%;
    • London weighting – post 1992 higher education institutions that pay London weighting in line with the national agreement are recommended to increase this by 2%, pre 1992 institutions are not subject to national negotiations on London weighting;
    • UNISON is working to take the issue of London weighting in pre 1992 universities forward – members working in these insitutitons should contact their branch for more details.

    As well the salary increase, the national employers and unions will look at the use of the bottom pay points, differences in weekly hours and hourly equivalent rates used by universities.

    This will inform discussions on pay for 2015-16.

    The employers and trade unions are also committed to joint working groups to examine the gender pay gap, casualisation and the use of zero hours contracts in the sector.

    “The employers’ 2% offer should be seen in the context of other settlements, and as a building block for the future,” says UNISON national secretary Jon Richards.

    “Our members are vital in delivering  world class services for students in UK universities and they deserve to be paid accordingly.

    “UNISON demanded a pay rise above the government-imposed 1% pay offer, and we won a rise of 2%.

    “We campaigned for those on the lowest pay to get a living wage and now thousands more will get it.

    “UNISON, the main trade union for support staff in higher education, improves the lives of our members, both at work and at home.”

    Read the report here.



    3rd December 2013

    See here for latest info.

    Read a report of the previous strike at London Met


    The first full meeting of New JNCHES to discuss the TU side pay claim 2013/14 took place on 23 April.  UNISON and the other HE unions had previously presented our joint claim.

    In submitting the claim, UNISON emphasised the real terms drop in living standards for staff and in particular the impact that this is having on the lowest paid; the relative financial health of the higher education sector; the predicted growth in income from the increase in student fees and the need to address issues of job security because of changes to redundancy procedures and the increased use of fixed term and casual contracts in the sector.

    The claim called for:

    • A percentage increase on all pay spine points of at least RPI (Feb 2013 RPI was 3.2%) on all salary points plus an additional percentage increase to start to address the real term reduction in pay over the last four years
    • Low Pay – to address the issue of low pay in the higher education sector by achieving a ‘living wage’ for all staff.  This should be achieved through the removal of the bottom two spine points on the national pay spine
    • London Weighting – An increase in the minimum allowance to £4,000
    • Positive proposals from UCEA on a range of equalities issues

    The unions argued that the claim was justified as the settlement for 2012/13 amounted to a further erosion of members’ pay.  After a fourth consecutive year of pay restraint, our members are reporting real falls in income and difficulties in maintaining their standard of living.

    We also called on universities to commit to paying a living wage to all staff, regardless of their employment status.  We argued strongly that it was affordable and justified, and that universities should strive to be socially responsible employers within their communities.

    At the conclusion of the first negotiating meeting, the employers made an initial offer of 0.5% on all pay points and London weighting in pre-1992 institutions.  They stated they do not have a mandate to remove or extend pay points from the current scale.  The employers wish to continue discussion on other pay related matters to address inequality issues and asked for further details on the other elements of the claim.  Although the unions did not formally respond to this offer it was made clear that it was well below the trade unions expectations.

    The third and final meeting of the JNCHES negotiations took place 21 May.  The employers made a final offer of 1% on all pay spines, plus a commitment to further work on a number of other issues included within the trade union claim.  Clearly the offer does not meet the trade union claim in full and it represents a further below inflation pay rise in the sector.  It also does not address the issues of the Living Wage for thousands of employees in the higher education sector.

    UNISON to consult members over higher education 1% pay offer

    The Higher Education Service Group Executive met on 22 May and carefully considered the background of the offer as well as the current economic situation.  The HESGE agreed to consult branches on the offer with a recommendation that branches reject the offer.  The HESGE felt it was unacceptable to have a fifth consecutive below inflation pay rise in higher education that further erodes the salaries of UNISON members.

    Living standards of members are being squeezed at the same time as surpluses and cash flows in higher education are at record highs. We believe that the trade union side pay claim was both fair and affordable to institutions and deserved by our members.

    According to the employers own statistics their final offer will still leave 4,000 higher education employees with incomes below the Living Wage.  The unions demonstrated in their claim that pay in the sector has fallen for most staff by over 13% in real terms over the last 5 years.  We also demonstrated that higher increases are affordable.

    Whilst the University sector is undergoing many changes and faces some challenges at the moment, we believe that it is not right for the employers to offer yet another year of minimal increases.  Pay matters and is a concern to all staff in higher education.

    If the current offer from the employers is rejected we will be looking to ballot members for industrial action, with a view to taking action in the autumn.  The HESGE acknowledges that the only means by which improvement in this offer can be achieved is through sustained industrial action by UNISON members, in conjunction with other higher education trade unions.

    UCU at their conference resolved to consult members with a recommendation to reject the offer and invoke the New JNCHES dispute resolution process.  The other trade unions, GMB, Unite and EIS are meeting to consider their position.

    The Union called on the employers to make an offer that would reflect the high cost of living and the real terms pay cuts that staff have endured in recent years.

    UNISON’s head of Higher Education, Donna Rowe-Merriman, said:

    “This offer falls far below what is required to address the gap between incomes and the cost of living. Higher Education workers have been hard hit by year on year real terms pay cuts and large numbers still take home poverty pay.

    “It is unacceptable that more than 4,000 HE workers across the UK earn below the living wage – the minimum people need to give their families a decent standard of living. HE institutions can apparently afford high salaries for vice chancellors and senior managers, so they can afford to pay the living wage as a bottom rate.

    “All staff are under real pressure from employers to be increasingly flexible and work harder every day. They face job insecurity, outsourcing and the increasing use of precarious zero hours contracts and all they get in return is this miserly increase.”

    Download the full trade union side national claim, submitted to JNCHES on 26 March 2013.