UCL News


2016 national pay negotiations: UCU calls for industrial action

28 April 2016

The annual pay negotiations with the recognised trade unions started last month.

Quad lit The negotiations are conducted on our behalf by the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA). Despite the ongoing challenges for UK universities, including significant cost increases, the challenging funding context and concerns over job security, the employers made an opening offer of a 1% increase to all spine points and signalled a willingness to discuss further joint work in the important areas of the gender pay gap and hourly-paid and casual employment.

UCL was disappointed to learn that, after this meeting, which was the first of three scheduled pay negotiation meetings, the University and College Union (UCU) lodged a dispute with the employers (including UCL) and is now calling on its members to support industrial action. The move made by UCU to ballot its membership at this very early stage of negotiations is without precedent and threatens to undermine the agreed process for pay negotiations. We are pleased that the other four trade unions are honouring the agreed process and we have written to UCU asking them to do so also and to cancel their premature ballot.

UCL supports the current agreed process for negotiating pay across the sector but the process can only work if all the parties remain committed to the bargaining process and continuing constructive dialogue. We are dismayed that the UCU is prepared to consider asking its members to target students' education and their examinations and that it wants to take such steps even before it has concluded the procedures it has agreed to participate in with the other trade unions.

The relationship between our academic staff and students is at the heart of the UCL educational experience. We are sure that the vast majority of UCL employees will therefore not support this premature ballot and would wish to play no part in any resulting industrial action that can only cause damage to UCL students.

We always make students our priority so we will of course have to plan for any disruption that could occur to be kept to an absolute minimum.  UCL will not accept the partial performance of duties by any of our staff and we reserve the right to withhold pay from any staff who might choose to take part in strike or other industrial action.

UCU's early move to threaten disruption targeting our students' education after pay negotiations have barely started is a disappointing tactic. It is a clear breach of the Agreement that the UCU has signed in order to be part of the collective negotiations and is a sign of bad faith that undermines those collective negotiations.

Nigel Waugh

Executive Director, UCL Human Resources