University employers have tabled an increased pay offer for university staff for the next academic year.
The Universities and Colleges Employers Association (Ucea), which represents 146 higher education institutions, made an opening offer of 1.3 per cent across all elements of the pay claim at the start of negotiations for 2019-20.
At a Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff meeting on 11 April, the offer was increased.
Ucea says the new offer increases the pay rise “envelope” to about 1.5 per cent, enabling boosts to the lower paid of up to 2.5 per cent.
But the sector unions, which include the University and College Union, Unite and Unison, are calling for a pay rise of inflation, as measured by the retail price index, plus 3 per cent – which would currently equate to an increase of 6.1 per cent, or a minimum rise of £3,349 (whichever is greater).
Paul Bridge, UCU head of higher education, said: “The pay claim has a ‘keep up and catch up’ element to address the years of wage suppression.
“This latest offer from Ucea does nothing to address that problem, nor does it commit to meaningful action on the gender pay gap, casualisation and workloads.
“We are incredibly frustrated that the employers have not come back to us today with a sensible offer that starts to seriously address the pay and equality issues that blight our sector.
“They need to return at the next set of talks with something that properly addresses members’ concerns.”
Mark E. Smith, chair of Ucea and vice-chancellor of Lancaster University, said it was an “important meeting for both Ucea and the unions to forward our discussions”.
“We remain committed to arriving at a fair and sustainable outcome in these unprecedented times,” he added.
“This envelope would bring around 3 per cent in the sector average value of pay increases and, for employers, also sits beside contribution increases of up to 7 per cent of salary, significantly raising the cost of remuneration of our staff,” he continued.
Professor Smith said he hopes that an agreement can be reached at the final meeting on 30 April.
Jon Richards, Unison’s head of education, said: “While the employers made an increase to their opening offer, this still falls short of the fair claim made by unions.
“As negotiations continue, the unions will push for an improved deal at the next meeting later this month.”