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This is the News section, please check back regularly for updates

Unions call on university employers to improve their pay offer

Latest offer ‘does not meet members’ expectations’ and needs to be improved, joint unions tell UCEA at latest talks

Photograph of higher education workers holding placards reading "speaking up for a living wage"
Photograph of higher education workers holding placards reading "speaking up for a living wage"

UNISON and sister university unions are urging employers to improve their pay offer for 2017-18 when the two sides meet again later this month.

Negotiations will continuing between the five unions and the Universities and Colleges Employers Association at the meeting on 27 April.

UNISON, the UCU, Unite, GMB and the EIS met employers yesterday, and the UCEA improved its initial 1.2% pay offer to 1.5% with a 1.8% increase for workers on the lowest pay point. That would mean a minimum £8.40 an hour for those on a 35-hour week.

That movement followed strong representation from the joint unions, but they made it clear to employers yesterday that it still does not go far enough to meet members’ expectations.

The last time HE workers pay rose in line with inflation (RPI) was in 2009-10. Use our salary calculator to find out how much your pay has fallen behind prices since then,

In particular, negotiators pointed out that the current offer doesn’t address the unions’ claim for the living wage (£8.45 an hour, and £9.75 in London) to be the minimum rate in the sector.

“Our members are experiencing rising living costs and telling us very clearly that they are under increasing financial pressure,” said UNISON head of higher education Donna Rowe-Merriman.

“They are already struggling to pay bills from month to month. We will be looking for the employers to make an improved offer at our next meeting.”

Discussions also covered possible joint work on reducing the sector’s gender pay gap, reducing casual work and tackling increased workloads

 
COMING THIS WEEK… Fifteen Minute Care Makeover
Film crew and actors filming a scene for the UNISON campaign flim
Film crew and actors filming a scene for the UNISON campaign flim
Makeover film highlights UNISON's campaign to Save Care Now
A new film highlighting the indignity suffered by thousands of elderly people because of 15-minute care visits will hit the internet on Thursday.

Commissioned by UNISON to tie in with the union's campaigning work on the crisis in homecare, the two-minute features former Brookside actor and 60 Minute Makeover star Claire Sweeney. It is a satirical sideswipe at the effects of government cuts on a service many vulnerable and elderly people rely on and UNISON members deliver.

Members and the public will be able to see the film – and sign a petition calling for an end to these short visits – on the union’s dedicated campaign website: savecarenow.org.uk.

At the same time, UNISON continues to campaign for councils that commission homecare to sign up to the union's Ethical Care Charter, committing themselves to providing decent care and proper pay and conditions for care workers.
Read about the issues on our Save Care Now campaign site       

 

 

UNISON wins payout for unfairly dismissed North West drug treatment staff

 

A group of workers supporting adults with addiction issues has won a six-figure settlement after their new employer left them jobless and without redundancy pay.

The seven were recently awarded nearly £178,000 in compensation after UNISON backed their case against Arch Initiatives. UNISON took Arch to an employment tribunal for refusing to take on the staff when their jobs were transferred from Greater Manchester West NHS Foundation trust (GMW).

Arch Initiatives claimed the employees’ contract was solely for managing addiction treatment patients, but the substance misuse workers roles and duties went beyond this. Therefore the company said it was not responsible for them.

But the employment tribunal ruled that Arch acted unfairly in dismissing the seven who were left out of work and with no redundancy pay.

Denise Holcroft, 41, was among those staff who lost their jobs. She had worked for GMW for more than three years but was forced to take lower paid work elsewhere and on less hours until she found a full-time role.

Denise said: “There’s never a good time to be told you’re out of a job, but this was so stressful. I couldn’t pay my bills and had to take what work I could just to cover my mortgage.”

UNISON North West spokesperson for health Amy Barringer said: “It’s daunting for staff being transferred to a new employer, and utterly destabilising for them when the process is handled incorrectly.

“Arch Initiatives refused to play by the rules, but UNISON ensured it was held accountable and staff were properly compensated. We’ll continue to challenge bosses who ignore the law. ”

Notes to editors:
– Arch Initiatives tendered for and won a contract in 2012 to oversee the management of addiction treatment patients. This followed a restructuring of the service by Bolton Council.
– Staff who transfer from one employer to another should be protected under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE).
– Arch lost its appeal against the original tribunal decision and agreed to pay £177,530 compensation. The appeal was handled by UNISON’s legal department.
– Thompsons Solicitors was the law firm acting in the employment tribunal for workers belonging toUNISON.
– Denise Holcroft received £29,020 reflecting her loss of pay and pension benefits.
– Two staff in addition to the seven represented by UNISON also won their case against Arch Initiatives.

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