National pay negotiations, 2023-2024: an update.
As you may be aware all the education unions in these negotiations declared a dispute with UCEA, the employers’ association, over the proposed pay increase for 2023-24. In February negotiations began under the auspices of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) with the unions, in good faith, agreeing to pause industrial action against the imposed 2022-23 pay increase.
Unfortunately, talks on pay reached a total impasse, but the joint unions made a negotiating judgement to stay in ACAS to see if progress could be made on other issues. As a result, negotiations have now begun on four ‘streams’: reviewing the National Pay Spine, Pay Equality gaps, Workload, and Contract type/ casualisation. The review of the pay spine and any reform could be of great significance to the HE sector with the compression of the spine having added to the relative decline of the value of pay, especially for staff in the middling pay bands that have not benefited from any percentage weighting in their favour – meaning most staff.
The unions have expressed their disappointment that UCEA has instructed its member institutions to impose an interim payment of the 2023/24 pay increase, which is likely to take place in March (backdated to February). The payment will add £1,000 or 2% whichever is greater to all the National Pay Spine points. This is despite nothing yet having been agreed on pay. The unions will continue to make this clear in negotiations.
Funding for the interim payment comes, interestingly, from savings made by the HE sector when Liz Truss cancelled increases to their National Insurance contributions set up by the previous PM.
Unite’s National Industrial Sector Committee, is due to meet on 17 March to discuss the outcome of the ACAS talks. This will include any timetable for consulting members of the 2023/24 pay round and any industrial action ballot on the pay round if members reject the pay offer in the consultative ballot.