1% offer ‘endangers’ national pay bargaining

Below-inflation rise could prompt richer institutions to offer enhanced local deals, expert warns

February 27, 2014

National pay bargaining is “in danger of disintegrating” if employers seek to push through a sixth successive below-inflation pay rise next month, an industrial relations expert has warned.

Pay negotiations for 2014-15 are due to start next month amid continuing industrial unrest over this year’s 1 per cent pay offer, with University and College Union members threatening to boycott marking from 28 April if employers do not improve the deal.

But staff at cash-rich institutions might look to break away from the UK-wide negotiations to agree better local deals if universities do not substantially improve on this year’s offer, according to Roger Seifert, professor of industrial relations at the University of Wolverhampton.

“We are in a period where the desire to preserve the system is only just in the balance,” said Professor Seifert.

“The system is threatened and is in danger of disintegrating,” he added.

Most universities want to keep the current set-up because it stops institutions competing against each other on wages; as unions also wish to preserve national bargaining, this might prompt an improved offer for next year, Professor Seifert predicted.

No university has left national pay bargaining since £9,000 tuition fees were introduced in 2012, despite predictions that institutions able to expand their student numbers might seek to offer higher locally agreed pay.

Last year, union members at the University of Exeter rejected an offer to increase pay by 1 per cent above any nationally agreed deal if they left national pay bargaining.

However, some universities have sought to pay their staff more by altering salary packages while remaining within the UK-wide framework for pay negotiations.

The London School of Economics has agreed to pay higher minimum salaries to its full-time academic staff as part of a new academic career structure introduced this year, although they will no longer receive automatic annual increments.

A spokesman for the Universities and Colleges Employers Association said that collective bargaining had adapted to major sector changes but had been “remarkably successful in delivering the stability and sustainability in higher education pay for more than two decades”.

“There have always been countervailing pressures for and against collective pay negotiations; these are bound to intensify in an environment of austerity and pay restraint,” he added.


Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest