Fair pay in universities

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2018 Higher Education Service Group Conference
21 September 2017
Carried as Amended

Conference believes that there is an inherent unfairness in the way in which our universities are being run, and the way in which the most senior staff are being rewarded whilst UNISON members and staff working in support services are paying the price.

Recent research in the Guardian revealed that among 17 university heads who retired between 2014 and 2016, the average final salary was £280,000. Further, as all of them benefited from a final salary pension scheme (which is now closed to new entrants) that salary fed through generously into their retirement benefits. Pensions in excess of £80,000 – more than the vast majority of UNISON members will ever earn – were reported, alongside lump sum payments in excess of £0.25 million.

Pay packages in excess of £100,000 are also common among other senior staff in universities, with above inflation rate pay increases funded by increased student fees and accommodation costs which leave young people in significant debt when they leave university.

For UNISON members, struggling with low pay; cuts in staffing levels; negligible pay rises; constant restructuring leading to increased workload and pressure from management, the report only adds to their sense of injustice, frustration and anger.

Much work has been done in the sector to improve the gender pay gap and to win fair pay for members, but the disparity between the highest and the lowest paid is blatantly unfair.

Conference calls upon the Service Group Executive to:

1)engage with the recently announced government consultation on leadership pay and accountability in universities, and raise these concerns;

2)raise awareness of the issues, including through social media, to encourage other interested parties to engage with the consultation;

3)work together with other relevant bodies to campaign for fairer pay and greater accountability across the Higher Education sector.