UCU backs off on pay, but vows to fight job cuts

December 10, 2009

Higher education staff look set to settle for a 0.5 per cent pay rise after the University and College Union decided not to oppose the offer.

The UCU's higher education committee met on 4 December, after talks between the five higher education unions and the Universities and Colleges Employers Association closed last month.

Although the committee merely "noted" and did not accept the offer, it made no recommendation of further action.

Unison has accepted the offer, Unite has recommended that its members accept, and GMB has yet to reach a decision. But the Educational Institute of Scotland has rejected it and entered into a formal dispute with Ucea.

A Ucea spokesman said it was awaiting confirmation of the UCU's decision, but added that "we understand this will draw a conclusion to this year's pay negotiations".

Michael MacNeil, national head of higher education at the UCU, said the committee had "noted the unsatisfactory conclusion to this year's pay talks" and felt the offer "remained unacceptably low".

"The unwillingness to provide a pay increase of more than 0.5 per cent, along with rising inflation, will be treated as an IOU to be included in the 2010 pay claim," he said.

Mr MacNeil said it was "significant" that the employers signed up to a "digest" on job security produced by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, but added that the union would still seek a formal national agreement on redundancy avoidance.

Meanwhile, the UCU's University College London branch has passed a motion to begin balloting for industrial action if the university announces compulsory layoffs in the Information Services Division (ISD), claiming ten jobs are at risk.

UCL, which is seeking a 6 per cent cut in running costs, said it was consulting with staff and would avoid compulsory redundancies "if possible".

Union members believe the pattern established in the ISD will be replicated across the university, said Sean Wallis, UCU branch secretary.

He added: "The cuts haven't really begun. This is the taster."

john.morgan@tsleducation.com.

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