2019/20 Pay Dispute
On Wednesday 20th May EIS ULA had bilateral discussions with UCEA regarding the 2019/2020 dispute. These talks were informal and intended to see where we may be able to make progress on the pay dispute arising from last year’s pay claim and the Employers imposition of a 1.8% pay rise despite us making an RPI+ claim.
As members appreciate, so much has changed since the strike action earlier this year in support of the dispute and we are in now in a position of trying to mitigate the effects of an impending HE funding crisis rather than seeking inflationary pay rises. It is clear that the financial picture in the sector, the way we work, the place we work has changed completely in the space of a few weeks due to the Covid pandemic.
Given this it was not surprising when UCEA expressed to us that they had no mandate from their members to offer more than the 1.8% pay uplift already imposed. It now seems unlikely that further progress can be made on pay in this dispute. I know that will be disappointing to members, however it is a reflection of the changed circumstances we find ourselves in.
The discussions then quickly moved on to the other parts of the dispute that are outstanding. These include a demand for equality audits in relation to the gender, race and disability pay gaps in our institutions, a move away from casualisation (in particular early careers, hourly paid and contract research staff) and the setting up of the Scottish sub-committee of UCEA to discuss non pay issues specific to Scotland.
UCEA agreed to go away from those discussions and supply us with further information about discussions they have had with other unions and to discuss with their Scottish members their thoughts on the Scottish sub-committee. We are hopeful some progress can be made and await their response.
2020/2021 Pay Round
Current discussions on pay for 2020/21 New JNCHES pay negotiations have been paused due to the lockdown. This is reviewed every 3 weeks with the intention of commencing these as soon as possible.
The financial impact of Covid 19 cannot be properly quantified until closer to the new academic year when recruitment, especially for international students, is known. While we expect a pretty dire financial picture, we do believe that talks on pay will commence before that time. The joint statement agreeing to pause these discussions has been previously released but can be found here https://www.ucea.ac.uk/news-releases/23mar20/
In the meantime a roundtable discussion took place on Thursday 21st May between Unions and UCEA to discuss what common ground we could find in the hope of creating some national guidance for institutions around the pandemic and re-opening in the new term. The initial statement from that meeting, which we hope will be the first of a series of discussions on this topic can be found here https://www.ucea.ac.uk/news-releases/22may20/