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First joint union claim: employers refuse meaningful national negotiations

July 30, 2010

At the final New JNCHES meeting held on 28 July, UCEA continued to refuse national level talks to develop jointly-agreed proposals to improve job security. With fears that over 22,000 jobs are at risk, this refusal is unacceptable and irresponsible.

The employers’ final offer to the five unions was for an increase on pay points of 0.4%. With RPI running at 5.0%, the employers’ offer represents a real-terms pay cut for the second year running. Read more here (pdf)

At Leeds last year, we entered an ‘economies exercise’ with budgets stating that the staff pay increase for 09/10 would be at 2.5%, when in fact the employers ended negotiations with a final offer of 0.5% (so the budgets that took us into the EE in that regard were 500% wrong). The budgets taking nearly half of the University into review this year are out by the same amount (500% wrong) if the 0.4% sticks – our Faculty and School budgets factor in 2% p.a. pay increases in 2010/11 and 2011/12 increasing to 3% p.a. in 2012/13 and beyond.

500% wrong and then supporting a position nationally that would render your budgets 500% wrong again. And yet, have these budgets been realigned to realities? Not yet – the imperative to review is too strong, perhaps. Is this the budgetary equivalent to having your cake and eating it?

These are not the only inaccurate figures that sit in the budgets that are currently driving not only change, but a climate of fear that promotes acquiescence. NI increases that are now ruled out at national level still remain in our budgets, for example.

So what are the effects of this on your salary (not to mention the decreases in deferred salary – pension – that are on the table)?

Let’s take someone on the bottom of Grade 6 at £24,273 (incidentally, you’d already be earning more at the bottom of grade 6 in some other Russell Group Universities, but we’ll leave that for another world class day).

Last year you got a rise of 0.5% to get you to this amount. The University of Leeds posted on webcomms that this was an inflationary salary increase (meanwhile RPI went up to 4.4%). Gas prices were up 107% and Electric up 66% in the last five years (source: Which?). We have seen incredible food inflation in the last two years. Car insurance rose in the last quarter of 2009 faster than at any other period since 1994 (source: The AA). March 2010 saw the biggest annual rise in fuel and transport costs since records began in 1997. Childcare costs have risen at near twice the rate of inflation (source: Personnel Today).

So, now you learn you’ll be given a 0.4% increase taking you to £24,370 (£8 extra a month, before tax). RPI now stands at 5%, so to have the same spending power, to simply stand still with your household bills, you’d need an increase taking you to £25,478. The employers won’t let that happen, so you’ll in effect be taking a pay cut of £1117 in real terms this year, on top of the real terms pay cut you took last year. And there’s a risk your pension will be significantly reduced.

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