- 2019 Higher Education Service Group Conference
- 19 September 2018
The continuing erosion of the pay of higher education support staff is a stain on the sector and flies in the face of assurances by employers that they value their workers.
It is scandalous that the Government’s national living wage is approaching the bottom of the Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff (JNCHES) pay scale, whilst the real ‘Foundation Living Wage’ (FLW) is a dream for many low paid Higher Education (HE) staff. Real terms earnings growth has been limited over the last decade and non-existent since the recession. In-work poverty has become one of the most important challenges we face.
In recent years student numbers have increased in most HE institutions, whilst staff cuts and redundancies have led to expanding workloads for the remaining staff. Yet only Vice-Chancellors and other senior staff have seen hefty rewards.
It is time to “Catch Up”. Time to make up for the lost ground; following years of below inflation pay awards. Awards that don’t match increased shop prices, utility bills and housing costs. We need to “Catch Up” on national pay and improve local terms and conditions. It is time for an end to insulting and derisory pay offers.
The HE sector continues to be blighted by the gender pay gap and there is a persistent ethnic pay gap that needs to be closed as a matter of urgency.
Conference calls on the Service Group Executive to pursue in the union negotiations that produce the joint claim the following points:
1)Negotiate a consolidated one year pay award of retail price index (RPI) + 3%, or a lump sum of up to £3,349 for those on a 37 hour week (whichever is greater) to achieve a minimum hourly rate of £10 an hour for all staff.
2)Negotiate an RPI +3% consolidated increase on London Weighting and all other allowances negotiated nationally. Work with branches to seek to negotiate a similar rise in all appropriate local allowances.
3)The introduction of a maximum 35 hour working week for all HE staff.
4)Establish a Scottish sub-committee of the New Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff (JNCHES) as set out under the New JNCHES Agreement. The main purpose of the sub-committee would be to deal with matters not currently being dealt with at the New JNCHES Committee.
5)Step up the campaign to eliminate the gender pay gap working with regions, branches and sister trade unions. Seek to work with the employer where possible aiming for transparency and full sharing of data at both a national and local level.
6)Highlight the ethnic pay gap in the sector and recognise the impact of intersectionality on the pay gap. Campaign to encourage universities to improve how they capture information on the ethnicity of staff.
7)Identify and write to all non accredited Living Wage employers reminding them of the moral and business case of why they should apply for Living wage accreditation and demand that they do so.
8)Where it is suspected that HEI claiming to be accredited are not ensuring all staff, including outsourced contractors, are being paid the FLW, submit Freedom of Information requests as appropriate.
9)Highlight and campaign against those HE employers whose Vice-Chancellors and senior leaders receive above inflation increases, whilst the pay of the rest of their staff is held down.
10)In the event that the joint pay claim is not met by the employers, seek to coordinate lawful industrial action in conjunction with fellow Higher Education trade unions, with a clear plan for escalating lawful industrial action to strengthen the campaign, in accordance with UNISON rules relating to industrial action.