Unions say HE employers’ pay freeze proposal is unacceptable

New Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff will meet employers again after new living wage rates are announced

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UNISON and the other higher education unions are calling on universities to think again, after the employers proposed a pay freeze for staff.

The New Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff (New JNCHES) has made clear that this is not acceptable and said that it has not abandoned the call for a pay deal for this year.

There will be an additional meeting on 5 November at which sector finances will be reviewed. By this date, there should be greater clarity about the number of students who have signed up and a clearer picture should be emerging about the impact of COVID on university finances.

In relation to the lowest pay points, an extra joint meeting was held to look at low pay and this group will reconvene in November when the national living wage and Living Wage Foundation pay rates are announced. It will also look at compression between pay points at the lower end of the pay spine.

The employers have indicated that they are interested in joint working on a number of the areas on the pay claim.

The University and Colleges Employers’ Association (UCEA) will be writing to the unions on 16 October with a final offer on all areas – including pay-related matters such as gender and race pay equality, workload, standardised 35-hour week contract, casualised and outsourced workers, career development for support staff and the Scottish JNCHES subcommittee.

UNISON head of education Jon Richards said: “The unions argued forcefully for our members to receive the pay rise so desperately needed – we are calling on universities to reconsider their position ahead of the autumn New JNCHES meeting in November 2020.”