MMU UNISON NEWSLETTER 19/06/2012 | www.unisonmmu.

org

Vote now in the Pay Consultation
Over the last few months, our Union’s national negotiators have been working to try and secure a decent pay award for 2012 and to reverse the last three years of real-term pay cuts that all staff in Higher Education have experienced. The employers have responded with an offer of a 1% increase on our salaries. This is already double last year’s award but it is still a pay cut (with inflation at 3.7%) and it does nothing to make up the lost ground of the last three years. Our national executive is putting this offer to members so that they can decide the response. The Higher Education Service Group Executive is recommending a rejection of this offer – Universities have the money to pay decent wages and they believe staff deserve it in order to keep up with the cost of living increases. The rest of the newsletter contains more details from our national negotiators. MMU UNISON is asking all members to vote in our Branch’s Consultation. Please click on the link below and register your vote.

Visit www.goo.gl/TSvSV to vote.
If you do not have access to a computer, please return the slip below via the internal mail to: UNISON, Room 342, Mabel Tylecote Building. All votes must be cast by 6pm on Tuesday 26 June.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Name: Workplace: Membership Number (if known): Do you accept UCEA's offer of a 1% Pay increse (another real-terms pay cut)? Accept [ ] Reject [ ] The national Higher Education Service Group Executive is recommending that members reject this offer.
UNISON MMU | Pay Consultation 2012

MMU UNISON NEWSLETTER 19/06/2012 | www.unisonmmu.org

The 2012 Pay Negotiations Explained
The Unions’ claim for 2012 7% Pay Increase UNISON, UCU, GMB, EIS and Unite have asked for a 7% pay increase. That’s 3.7% to keep up with inflation, i.e. increases in the cost of living over the last year (RPI inflation, which includes housing costs, was 3.7% in February 2012) and the claim includes an additional 3.3% to give members some ‘catch-up’, to make up for the sub-inflation increases we’ve had over the last few years. A living wage for all workers We asked for a commitment that the lowest pay rate in each higher education institution will be no lower than the Living Wage – or the London Living Wage in London. That means the starting pay rate should be £7.20 or higher outside London, and £8.30 in London. Many universities already pay above those rates, but for those that don’t, this was a key part of our claim. Based on a Freedom of Information request that UNISON issued this year, we estimate that at least 50 HEIs do not pay the living wage to all of their staff. This is unacceptable. Equalities measures We asked for positive proposals from employers to address the outstanding recommendations of the 2009/10 Equalities Working Group. In particular, we wanted positive action to address the continuing gender pay gap in higher education. The Employers’ (UCEA) Response After three formal negotiation meetings, the employers’ side, UCEA, made an offer that included:  Offered a 1% increase to all pay points and London Weighting in post 92 institutions  Acknowledged the unions’ aspirations for a living wage, and stated their hope that the living wage would be raised in local talks between HEIs and trade unions  Committed to continuing work on the recommendations of the equalities working group; also recommend equality proofed pay structures for senior staff. UNISON’s Position UNISON’s Higher Education Service Group Executive, the union’s national committee for HE, is consulting members on this offer, recommending that you reject it. Fairness and the cost of living The employers point out that the government has requested a maximum 1% increase across the public sector. So to give workers in HE more than 1% wouldn’t be fair. In UNISON’s view, it’s the 1% ceiling that is unfair. The cost of living continues to rise dramatically. UNISON believes that this offer does not reflect the increased cost of living and that this is the fourth consecutive year of minimal pay offers (following 0.5%, 0.4%, and £150 in the last three years). Living costs have increased by over 12% over the last four years. In that same period, pay increases have been worth 2.4% of pay for many staff. This represents a shortfall in pay
UNISON MMU | Pay Consultation 2012

MMU UNISON NEWSLETTER 19/06/2012 | www.unisonmmu.org

of around 10% for HE staff. For someone on point 16 of the pay scale this would represent around £1,600 per year. Inflation continues to increase at over 3% resulting in further erosion of the value of pay. Many of our members are struggling to survive – their energy bills keep going up, food costs more and more, mortgage or rental payments are going up, but their pay is not. Our members deserve decent treatment and fair reward for the work that they do. Affordability It’s true, the government is cutting public sector spending. But at the same time, HEIs are charging colossal fees to their students. UNISON is opposed to this – but it does mean that our employers have money. And it’s not just us saying this. In its review of higher education finance in March this year, Hefce reported that, ‘the majority of the key financial indicators are the best on record, with the sector reporting strong surpluses, large cash balances and healthy reserve levels.’ Surpluses have actually increased in recent years, while staff costs as a percentage of total income are at an all-time low. We believe that this demonstrates that a decent award is affordable for most institutions. The money for a decent pay increase is there. Funding The HE employers have stated their offer is at the limit of government public sector pay policy and that they are constrained by ‘messages’ from their funders. UCEA say that HEFCE have told them that if the pay increase is more than 1%, they will suffer financial penalties from their funders. University employers pick and choose whether they are in the private or public sector to suit themselves. More and more funding is coming from non-government sources and settlements in the private sector are averaging around 3%. If HEFCE have made this threat, we say it’s all the more reason for us to campaign strongly for a decent pay increase – giving the employers no option but to fight against any such financial penalties. The living wage UCEA seem reluctant to be too prescriptive on the living wage claim – saying it’s beyond their remit to impose minimum pay rates on HEIs. UNISON doesn’t agree –this is such a key issue, that it is unacceptable that UCEA haven’t at least urged, or encouraged, employers to adopt the living wage. UCEA negotiate pay increases – all we’re asking for is a pay increase weighted towards the lowest paid. The living wage rates are calculated as the levels workers need to provide themselves and their families with a decent standard of living. Anything below that rate will mean people will struggle to survive. The current minimum hourly for staff in HE on the national pay spine is £6.92 for staff on point 1 (on a 37 hour working week). It would require a 4% rise for these staff to be paid at the current living wage. For many institutions the cost would be minimal. Many employers that have agreed to pay the living wage have seen retention and productivity rates rise, and sickness levels fall, as staff feel more valued and no longer have to take on two or three additional jobs to make ends meet. The living wage is the least our members in HE, and all workers across the public sector, deserve.
UNISON MMU | Pay Consultation 2012

MMU UNISON NEWSLETTER 19/06/2012 | www.unisonmmu.org

Equalities Obviously we welcomed the commitment to continuing the work on the recommendations from the equalities working group. But we should be clear, this is an urgent issue – in 2011, the gender pay gap in higher education was 14.4% - a very small improvement compared with eleven years earlier, the year 2000, when it was 15%. What next? Member consultation UNISON is consulting members through their branches. The Service Group Executive will then consider the results at its meeting on 5th July. Please be clear – we feel that negotiations have gone as far as they can for the time being. If we are serious about launching a campaign against this 1% offer, and for a decent pay increase, we must be prepared to take strike action – in all probability, sustained strike action would be required to get us a pay increase anywhere near what we asked for in our claim. What about the other unions? Unite and EIS have rejected the pay offer. UCU and GMB are consulting their members. Obviously, a joint union approach is vital. For industrial action to be successful, we would as a minimum need UNISON and UCU to be on board. In conclusion The unions asked for 7%, to make keep up with inflation and make up for lost earnings; and a living wage for all workers. The employers have offered 1%, and nothing on the living wage. We appreciate the difficult position the employers are in, not least the atmosphere and mood of low pay settlements in the public sector. There is pressure on the employers from all sides. But fundamentally, the money is there, and the need is urgent. Many of our members are struggling to survive, and need a pay increase that goes some way, at least, to keeping up with price rises. But any campaign to get a better pay offer will not be easy – we would need sustained strike action. The SGE is asking members to reject the offer, but they do not do so lightly. They know that to take action on this will be difficult for many. But our members deserve a decent pay increase.

Contact the Branch Office
Linda Holden, ext 1409, l.holden@mmu.ac.uk Andy Cunningham, ext 1395/3485, a.d.cunningham@mmu.ac.uk

UNISON MMU | Pay Consultation 2012