UNISON seeks improved HE pay offer

UNISON will seek an improved pay offer when unions and higher education employers meet at their next scheduled negotiating session on 12 May.

This follows an offer from the University and Colleges Employers Association for a 0.9% pay rise for pay spine point 9 and above, with higher increases on points 1-8, (see below).

This would mean the starting point of the higher education pay spine would equal the living wage.

Scottish universities have separately confirmed that they will pay all staff at the country’s 19 higher education institutions at least the living wage of £7.85 an hour “for the foreseeable future”.

A spokeswoman for Universities Scotland added: “The intention of every institution in the sector to pay the living wage for the foreseeable future is sincerely meant, but it as far as the sector is able to commit at present, given the unpredictable nature of annual increases in the living wage and uncertainty in higher education funding.”

“We will continue to negotiate with the employers to improve the opening offer,” commented UNISON national secretary Jon Richard. “We will continue to press universities to address low pay in the sector.”

He welcomed the Universities Scotland commitment to pay at least £7.85, but added: “If they can see the benefit of paying the living wage, there is no reason why all employers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland can’t do it as well.”

The UCEA offer in detail

Pay point 1:                          2.605% increase

Pay point 2:                          2.4%

Pay point 3:                          2.2%

Pay point 4:                          2.0%

Pay point 5:                          1.7%

Pay point 6:                          1.5%

Pay point 7:                          1.3%

Pay point 8:                          1.1%

Pay point 8 and above:          0.9%

In the negotiations with the UCEA, employers argued that “almost half” of staff will get additional increases by progressing through the pay spine’s increments.

UNISON and other unions in the sector contest the number of staff involved.

And UNISON believes that, as higher education employers hold significant surpluses, it is able to pay staff more.

Employers are also asking for a new pay agreement to include reference to performance related pay progression.

The unions say the current framework agreement and local agreements are adequate and do not see any need to change them.

UNISON in education