UNISON recommends higher education staff reject ‘inadequate’ pay offer

A pay offer to higher education staff falls far short of the annual rise they deserve as university bosses have seen their salaries soar, says UNISON.

The union’s higher education executive has now agreed unanimously to recommend the “inadequate” 2019/20 pay offer from UCEA higher education national employers should be rejected.

UNISON will now undertake a consultation to ask members what they are prepared to do in order to achieve improvements to the offer, which is way below the claim jointly submitted by unions.

The decision was taken following the results of UNISON’s largest ever survey of staff in higher education. The survey showed that in the past year:

– Three quarters (75%) of staff said pay has not kept pace with increases to their utility bills and council tax
– Half (50%) said their pay has not kept up with housing cost increases
– Almost half (48%) had seen staff reductions in their team
– Two thirds (67%) said their workload has increased in the past year
– Three fifths (61%) don’t feel valued in their job
– Over two thirds (70%) were concerned or very concerned about losing their job

UNISON head of education Jon Richards said: “Staff in our world-class universities deserve a decent pay rise. Year after year they have suffered the appalling double blow of lower-than-inflation wage rises and increased workloads.

“Universities are asking hard-working staff to accept sliding living standards at the same time as many vice chancellors see record growth in their own pay packets.

“UNISON is recommending that this inadequate offer is rejected. UCEA needs to get real and come back to us with a serious proposal.”

Notes to editors:
– More information about the 2019/20 joint union pay claim can be found here.
– This was UNISON’s largest ever survey of HE members with over 3,000 responses.
– UNISON’s HE executive noted that the employers’ offer:
 Did not provide at least an RPI inflation rise for most staff.
 Did not achieve the foundation living wage for lowest paid staff that work a 36 or 37 hour week.
 Did nothing to address disparities between the numbers of hours which constitutes ‘full time’ at different institutions. UCEA calculations are based on a 35 hour week, but UNISON research shows that almost two thirds of universities have a longer ‘standard’ working week.
 Did not do enough to close the gender and ethnic pay gaps in universities.
– UCEA is the Universities & Colleges Employers Association and represents the employers’ side in pay negotiations.
– More information on the 2019/20 UCEA offer can be found here.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.

Media contacts:
Anthony Barnes T: 0207 121 5255 M: 07834 864794 E: a.barnes@unison.co.uk
Kieran Pearson T: 0207 121 5555 M: 07432 741595 E: k.pearson@unison.co.uk