UNISON members reject 1.5% pay offer for higher education staff

UNISON members reject 1.5% pay offer for higher education staff

University lecture hall

Although the pay increase proposal is in line with inflation, it has been rejected as it does not catch up with pay lost to higher education staff over the last decade.

Public sector union UNISON has announced that it’s higher education service group has met and rejected the final pay offer proposed by HE national employers UCEA (Universities and Colleges Employers Association).

Earlier this year UNISON joined other UK education unions to put forward a proposal of a £2,500 increase in salary for higher education staff, with a minimum wage of £10 per hour – or £10.85 for people in London.

However, the final pay offer made by the UCEA represents just a 1.5% increase for the majority of higher education workers. Those already on lower pay points have been offered higher increases on a sliding scale between 1.54% and 3.6%.

The offer falls far short of UNISON’s request for a £2,500 increase, as it represents the equivalent of the current foundation living wage rate of £9.50 – and only for those working a 35-hour week. UNISON said the UCEA was also silent on their claim for a 35-hour working week for all as well an on the issue of outsourcing.

The union said that the pay offer is nowhere near what would be needed to address the loss of wages suffered by higher education staff in recent years. They also claimed that the pay offer would mean that those working on the lowest pay points who work more than 35 hours per week will continue to earn less than the foundation living wage rates.

UNISON national officer Ruth Levin said: “Whilst this pay offer finally brings the pay freeze to an end, it simply doesn’t go far enough to address the loss in value of the wages of higher education staff working so hard to keep their universities going.”

As well as the 1.5% pay offer, the employers also offered joint national work on career development, tackling the gender, ethnic and disability pay gaps, workload management and the impact of COVID, pay spine compression and redeployment.

The UCEA said that the pay offer represents “a substantial additional investment of £164 million in round terms” and “is fair and sustainable, within a context of increasing costs, uncertainty and significant financial constraints resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Read the UCEA’a final offer in full here.

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