Employers have made a final offer of a 1 per cent pay increase for university staff next year, with an additional rise for the lowest-paid set to ensure that most employees get the “living wage”.
Under the offer, announced by the Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association after the last negotiating meeting on 12 May, the lowest eight points of the pay spine would be increased by up to 2.65 per cent
On the basis of a standard 35-hours-a-week contract, this would ensure that all workers would be paid the living wage, which stands at £9.15 an hour in London, and £7.85 in the rest of the UK. However, a small number of institutions organise their contracts, and therefore their pay, differently.
The offer of 1 per cent for the rest of the pay spine represents a small advance on the original proposal for 2015-16 of 0.9 per cent.
That offer had been described as “disappointing” by the University and College Union, and it matches the 1 per cent proposal that triggered strikes and the threat of a marking boycott last year. Industrial action was eventually called off after an offer of 2 per cent was accepted by staff.
But Ucea said that the final offer exceeded all indices of inflation: the consumer price index is currently flat while the retail prices index stands at 0.9 per cent.
The association said that the offer would be “testing” for institutions that face increasing pension and national insurance costs, and promised further work at national level on the gender pay gap and casual staffing.
Ucea also highlighted that pay progression increments, which around half all employees will be eligible to receive, would take the average pay increase in 2015-16 to 2.5 per cent and that many would receive more than this.
Paul Curran, chair of Ucea and the vice-chancellor of City University London, said that employers shared trade unions’ desire for “a fair and sustainable pay outcome that also addresses specific concerns around the lower paid”.
“We believe that trade unions should be in a position to recommend this offer to their members as it addresses all aspects of their pay claim in spite of the ever-increasing challenging sector environment,” Professor Curran said. “We now look to trade union colleagues to consider carefully the real value of the offer being made.”
Michael MacNeil, the University and College Union’s head of bargaining and negotiations, said that it was wrong to bring individual employees’ pay progression increments into the debate about national salary rises.
“The employers are trying to inflate the worth of the offer but, let’s be clear, for the vast majority of staff it is simply a 1 per cent increase to the pay scales,” he said. “The offer will be discussed at our annual conference later this month, where delegates will consider the offer and whether to put it to members.”