Disappointing emergency-JNCC meeting outcomes: pay freeze, VR, possible redundancies

Updates from two emergency JNCC meetings held in September 2020

Today the recognised unions attended the second of two Extraordinary Joint Negotiation and Consultation Committee (JNCC) meetings, the method through which Management and the Unions reach agreements on staff-facing changes. These were called at the JNCC meeting held in July, where the changes to incremental freezes and a more detrimental Voluntary Redundancy scheme were not agreed to because Management have failed to produce the information requested by the Unions, in order to enable members to make informed decisions.

What is clear is the following:

  1. There is a lack of parity of detriment to staff pay in the face of COVID-19
    • The seven or so members of VCEG (max 7 members staff on salaries over £100K) have taken voluntary salary cut of 10%
    • Staff on L10 and not in VCEG (including a minimum of 9 members of staff on £100+K) are not receiving their cost of living increase, in line with that negotiated by JNCHES, so estimated to be a max of 1%. (However, National Pay increase is set at 0%)
    • Everyone else, circa 1,000 staff, on Spine points 16 – 54 have had a cut in salary imposed, without any formal agreement being reached. The pause to incremental increases plus lack on National Pay Increase (agreed each year by JNCHES) is roughly 4.6% per person.
    • The majority of the highest paid members of staff are therefore suffering the least financial detriment.
  2. A new voluntary redundancy (VR) scheme is being introduced for those within the scope of any change management plan:
    • For some staff, the level of VR payment will effectively be the statutory minimum, without the cap on the total amount to be paid.
    • Statutory minimum is the least an employer can pay, without it being illegal.
    • This is approximately a 75% reduction to VR terms previously used by University of London, meaning that for each £1 a member of staff would have previously received, they will now only get 25p.
    • This is far below that being offered by other members of the Federation, including those facing immediate significant financial difficulties. In today’s meeting, we presented evidence showing that current VR terms at UoL are around 33% less generous than those at LSE, half as generous as those at Queen Mary, 3.5 to 4 times less generous than those at Goldsmiths, and 4 to 5 times less generous than those at SOAS. These are all schemes that have been active since COVID hit.
    • The Recognised Unions have not agreed to what UoL is currently offering but we are being told they cannot afford more, as paying out too much now will mean they may have to make greater staff cuts in the future.
    • No specific evidence to support the University’s position has been presented, no benchmarking data, and no comment on why UoL terms are less favourable than institutions whose financial position is arguably worse than ours.
  3. There are likely to be redundancies in the future:
    • This has been stated publicly in the Town Halls.
    • The Recognised Unions have received no information to confirm the overall scope of any intended redundancies.
    • The Recognised Unions have received no information to confirm that any area is outside of the scope of these redundancies.

Whether intentional or coincidental, there is a slow erosion of the rights and working conditions of those at the lower spine points, whilst those at the highest continue to only feel a pinch they consent to.

We need YOU to tell us what you want!
What is fair? Should the majority of those earning the most have their pay cut than those earning the least? Should a VR scheme that is barely above the lowest legally permitted go through as the sector faces the most financially unstable time in recent history? Or, would it perhaps be fair for the University tell staff what the plans for future redundancies are, so that Recognised Unions can engage in meaningful negotiations, to protect the most jobs?

If you’ve answer ‘yes’ to any of the above, we need you to join our next members meeting and tell us.

Please also use the anonymous ‘Ask a question’ function at Monday’s Town Hall to ask anything you want.

The University is failing to uphold the spirit of Recognition Agreement with its Recognised Unions and therefore leaving no option but to inform members of what is going on, so we can have the necessary conversations publicly.

It is your future, tell us what you want us to fight for.