Trade unions in higher education have received the initial offer from UCEA (the employers’ organisation) for a pay rise due in August. It’s nothing.
So apart from adjustments at the bottom of the pay scale to maintain paying at least the National Living Wage, an “increase” of nothing represents a further real terms pay cut for higher education workers.
Of course this is not unexpected. The sector is bracing itself for massive financial problems which may be severe depending on the type of university, but national pay bargaining, which the overwhelming majority of universities are signed up to, is based on the assumption that all universities are able to afford a reasonable pay increase every year to maintain wages in line with inflation, because all universities attract students and research income.
The current crisis is accelerating the problems caused by the introduction of market principles into higher education. If the number of students falls significantly, this will not be spread out evenly, meaning that some institutions are going to struggle. This forms the basis of current campaigns to save higher education and maintain jobs, pension rights and reasonable pay levels across the whole sector.
Obviously UNISON are beyond disappointed with this so-called offer. We’ll be advocating that we seek the views of members over what to do. We don’t accept that we need to join the race to the bottom by accepting pay cuts to save jobs because the money isn’t there. Despite the economic crisis, there are still collosal amounts of funding available if the government were to change its priorities. We think higher education is a necessary public service and we’ll do everything we can to make sure our members are properly rewarded for our efforts.