The Universities and Colleges’ Employers Association (UCEA) has offered a two per cent pay increase to UK higher education staff. The marking boycott will now be postponed to allow union members to vote on the offer.
This offer has been made in response to the proposed marking boycott by the Universities and College Union (UCU) , which was set to begin on 28 April. Until a decision is made on whether to accept this offer, the start date for the boycott has been postponed until Tuesday 6 May.
UCU members will vote on accepting this offer through a ballot that will conclude on 1 May. The UCU committee will consider the result at a meeting the following day.
The UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “Following this offer, UCU has decided to ballot members on their views. It is only right that they make the ultimate decision about what happens next.”
A UCEA report said: “The employers have made it clear that this pay offer, considerably more than those made in recent years, is at the absolute limits of affordability for HE institutions and only stays on the table if the current and planned industrial action is called off.
“The full and final offer is at a level that exceeds three current cost of living indicators and seeks to reflect the unions’ concern that pay levels have been falling behind over recent years.”
Dr Tom Jones, treasurer of the St Andrews UCU branch, welcomed “signs of movement” from the employers but expressed concern as to whether the proposal will be accepted. He said: “The offer of a two per cent increase from August 2014 does not do anything to improve the settlement for 2013/14, over which UCU entered into dispute. Nor does it significantly redress the real terms drop in pay over the last four years, which is close to 15 per cent.
“Whether members find this offer acceptable or not will only become clear once the ballot results are announced in the early days of May. UCU St Andrews will in the meantime be facilitating discussion of the offer amongst our membership through a schedule of general meetings.”