HE unions submit a ‘timely and serious’ pay claim for 2020/21

Scheduled pay talks in March and April postponed due to coronavirus epidemic

Higher education unions have submitted their joint pay claim for 2020/21, against a backdrop of five disputes over the past six years on pay and related matters in the sector.

The new claim calls for a pay increase of the retail price index plus 5% on all 49 points of the national pay spine.

The five unions state that: “Our claim is timely and serious and argues the case that all staff deserve a decent pay rise that both keeps up with the increasing cost of living as well as catching up with pay lost over the past 10 years.

“Whether HE staff work in pre- or post-1992 universities, the contribution of all staff should be properly recognised and rewarded and their collective contribution to higher education should result in net pay rises, not pay decline.

“The unions believe that reaching an agreement on this claim will start to address falling standards of living, pay equality, precarious employment and increasing workloads. All of these are issues in our claim that need to be addressed and we challenge UCEA to be bold in responding to each of them.”

Due to the coronavirus crisis the national employers and trade union side have agreed that the pay talks scheduled to start on 31 March and end on 29 April will need to be delayed.

They have agreed a joint union/employer mechanism for monitoring the situation and to determine when they can restart the pay process for the forthcoming year. The annual pay rise takes effect from 1 August each year.

Details of the claim

  • An increase in all salaries by the retail price index plus 5% on all 49 points of the national pay spine and on all pay-related allowances, including London weighting.
  • The minimum hourly rate of pay for staff employed by universities and other higher education institutions to be £10.50 an hour, whether the standard full-time weekly employment contract is 35 hours a week or more.
  • All universities to become Living Wage Foundation accredited employers, ensuring that outsourced workers receive at least the foundation’s rate.
  • The standard weekly full-time contract of employment to be 35 hours a week at all higher education institutions.
  • Ending pay injustice – meaningful, agreed action to tackle the race, gender and disability pay gap.
  • Meaningful, agreed action to address excessive workloads and unpaid work, including their impact on stress and mental ill-health.
  • Setting up working groups to look at career development, progression issues and training opportunities.
  • Agreeing a framework to eliminate precarious employment practises and casualised contracts from higher education, including zero-hours contract.
  • Converting hourly paid staff onto fractional contract.
  • Agreeing national guidance to end the outsourcing of support services and to bring staff into in-house employment.

The claim notes that the pay offer in 2019/20 for most HE staff was yet another below-inflation increase when measured against RPI.

This was at a time when staff were reporting ever-increasing workloads and working hours, increased work-related stress and casualisation.

The joint unions make clear that  pay needs to increase by both a ‘keep up’ and ‘catch up’ amount this year.

Read the full higher education pay claim

Joint statement on delay in negotiation meetings