The New JNCHES pay round (and associated dispute process) has concluded with no improved offer being made by UCEA. The EIS-ULA Executive has therefore decided to hold a Consultative Ballot of members for Industrial Action to secure a better offer from UCEA. We’re asking you to vote YES to both Action Short of a Strike and Strike Action.
At the first negotiating meeting of this round, I wrote to you all to relay the Joint Trade Union’s frustration that the employers had chosen to come to the meeting with no intention of making any offer at that first meeting. While an offer did eventually materialise in the 2nd and 3rd negotiation meetings, this offer has not met the expectations of the Unions.
You can see the full offer on our website but in summary it boils down to an offer of 3%.
The original claim from the trade unions asked for an uplift of RPI+2%. This reflected a desire of members to not only have a pay award which keeps up with inflation but added an element of catch up following the poor awards imposed over a period of years.
During negotiations, the unions tried hard to get the employers to move on their offer. We told UCEA we would be prepared to take any offer which met any measure of inflation back to our members, given the incredibly rapid rise in inflation. UCEA indicated they might come back with a non-consolidated increase to the offer, but then at the last dispute meeting made it clear that they would not be offering any more. While they said some institutions could pay, most had indicated they would not be prepared to do so, or that they could not do so. We believe that they should be paying their staff properly and that this position is not credible.
RPI currently sits at 11.8%. A 3% pay offer comes nowhere near addressing the impact of this increase in the cost of living. It means a real terms cut in the value of your pay of 8.8% this year. Your outgoings are increasing with this dramatic rise in the cost of living. Your earnings are not keeping up. That means you can buy less with what you earn and making ends meet becomes harder with each price rise. An Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey performed between 27 April to 22 May 2022, 77% of UK adults reported feeling worried about the rising cost of living, with 50% saying they worried "nearly every day". A separate ONS survey taken from 25 May to 5 June, found 52% of respondents had cut back on their energy use. With winter approaching, the pressure of household bills will only increase.
Energy costs, fuel costs, food costs, retail prices are all increasing faster than your pay this year, but that is not a new phenomenon in HE. For years now, UCEA has made sub inflationary offers, imposing those offers and hoping you will not take action. The truth is that only taking coordinated action in the sector will force the employers to change their tune on pay.
Meanwhile, in contrast to your salary, the pay for Principals continues to have not only kept up with but exceeded inflation since 2009. Why should lecturers take the hit to their pay when others do not? How is it fair that after years of hard work, increasing workloads, higher expectations from students and employers and a mammoth effort from staff to keep Universities running during the pandemic, that your pay is worth less than it was the year before? How is that fair?
The EIS ULA Executive think that the current offer on pay is unfair and unacceptable.