Unions ‘shocked’ by revised higher education pay offer

Those on the highest grades are offered the highest percentage rise, as new strikes dates are announced

Door of the School of Oriental and African Studies, part of the University of London, with statue of a man meditating outside

The joint higher education unions met the employers this week – the final meeting in a series of three to negotiate on pay.

The employers made a marginally improved offer which, compared to the original one, provides an improved – but still below inflation – offer for those on and above spinal column point 42. However, it did nothing to address issues of poverty pay and declining pay for all.

UNISON’s negotiators were shocked that the employers thought it appropriate to direct the £140m they added to the pay bill, across the country, at the 60,000 highest paid staff on national pay scales, leaving those at the bottom end struggling.

The joint unions responded that:

  • they were disappointed by employers continuing to insist on a pay cut for 2023-24, which also fails to address the 2022-23 dispute;
  • they were looking to the employers to make an offer that would meet any nationally recognised measure of inflation, backdated to August 2022, as well as a commitment to resolve pay-related issues.

Higher education workers have suffered year-on-year pay cuts and this offer fails to offer any improvement. While still committed to a negotiated settlement, the unions are now consulting members.

The offer will be confirmed in writing (and be split between February and August), but the overall percentage rises for both offers are:

Original offer

Spinal points 3-5 – 7%

Spinal points 6-14 – 7%

Spinal points 15-25 – 6%

Spinal points 26-42 – 5%

Spinal points above 43 – 4%

Latest offer

Spinal points 3-5 – 8%

Spinal points 6-14 – 7%

Spinal points 15-25 – 6%

Spinal points 26-42 – 5%

Spinal points above 43 – 5%

An electronic consultation of all UNISON members on national New JNCHES (the new joint negotiating committee for higher education staff) pay scales is now open until 9am on Thursday 9 February.

UNISON also has a further round of industrial action planned, focusing on the 2022-23 pay dispute.

The following dates are planned (though any of these could be withdrawn):

Glasgow School of Art – 16, 21, 22 February

Leeds Beckett University – 8, 9, 10 February

Manchester Met University – 6, 7, 8 February

Queen Margaret University – 21, 22, 23 February

School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London) – 1 and 8- 10 February

University of Brighton – 16- 17 and 20-21 February

University of Leeds – 8-12 and 22-24 February

University of the West of England – 14, 15, 16 February