Higher education employers make ‘disappointing’ final offer

The offer is for a 1.5% pay rise for most pay points, with higher percentage increases for those on lower pay points

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The joint higher education trade unions have expressed “disappointment” today, after the employers made a final offer of just 1.5% for staff in the sector for the year 2021-2022, which begins for the workforce on 1 August.

The unions met the employers, Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), at the third and final pay negotiation meeting for the pay settlement yesterday.

At the first meeting in March, the employers made an opening offer that equated to 1.1% of the pay bill, which didn’t meet any of the key elements of the joint unions’ pay claim.

Having rejected the opening offer, the joint unions pushed hard for a meaningful and decent pay settlement for all working in universities.

The employers’ final offer is for a 1.5% pay rise for most pay points, with higher percentage increases for those on lower pay points. It would mean that the lowest pay point, for those working at 35-hour week, would be the same as the current foundation living wage rate.

It comes after a year when members have experienced a pay freeze while working harder than ever in very difficult circumstances.

In relation to the pay-related elements of the claim, the employers indicated that they would be willing to work on reviewing pay compression on the national pay spine, work to close pay gaps related to gender, ethnicity and intersectional approach, workload and the impact of COVID.

UNISON senior national officer Ruth Levin said: “The joint unions expressed their disappointment that this final pay offer fell short of our pay claim for a decent and meaningful pay rise that both keeps up with the cost of living and catches up with the pay lost over many years.

“We know how hard higher education have worked to keep universities going year in, year out – and especially so during the pandemic.”
Full details on these elements, as well as the details of the final pay offer, will be sent to the unions next week.

UNISON’s higher education service group executive will meet next on 12 May to consider the offer. Branches will be kept updated on any developments.