At the New JNCHES meeting on 29 March, UCEA made an offer to explore how a non-consolidated cash sum equivalent to 0.25% of pay bill could be applied.
The employers made no serious attempt to address the other key elements of the joint union claim; for example, nothing on:
- Job security
- Improving the national framework agreement and terms and conditions of employment
- The assimilation of hourly-paid staff to the national agreement
- Proposals to close the gender pay gap
- Proposals for a national system to pay external examiners
Without producing any convincing evidence, the employers asserted that the effect of incremental increases on the pay bill should be taken into account during pay negotiations. This provoked a strong response from the trade unions. Unlike the private sector who pay the rate for the job from day one in the public sector staff start below the full rate and build up reflecting increasing knowledge and skills – arguably providing a short term subsidy for HE employers. The employers negotiated a pay deal in 2003 that clearly accepted increments as part of the structure so to complain now, when they have known and presumably budgeted for such increases, is a little disingenuous. They are looking for fig leaves and this will not wash.
The trade union side unanimously rejected the offer. The employers were asked to rethink their position and come to the next meeting with a credible offer.