It was my first JNCHES negotiating meeting and I was offended to hear the offer move from £100 to £150 flat rate for all staff.
Frankly, having had a pay freeze for the last three years, amounting to a 15% pay cut, there is only so much you can take, isn't there? The cost of travel, food, and energy prices are all rocketing - and the employer once again expects us to make do on less?
Whilst we all recognise in the public sector unions that pensions are the major national key issue for us all to unite around - we are also being hammered on pay, on jobs, we're facing outsourcing and privatisation too.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: we mustn't give an inch, we must resist on all fronts.
At the conference, HE members voted down a motion that proposed a £250 flat rate claim - and many lined up to speak from the floor - some with great passion and for the first time - against the employers' continued slashing of our pay.
I reported back at the time:
"The branches that won a 'reject' vote this year owe it to the rest of the sector to give confidence that we can fight back and win (such as Birmingham, who fought and won an increased offer). We must learn from their experiences and try to inculcate the same sort of fighting spirit in the rest of our sector."
So it's great our Service Group Exec has responded to this fighting mood at the conference by showing real leadership over this issue and by circulating the excellent Birmingham Branch newsletter to activists - among other things (see below).
It's my view we should 'reject' this pay offer if after dispute resolution meetings the 'final' offer remains anything like the current offer. And if our sister unions in the sector stand firm over pay this year too, we can aim to coordinate our action with them next academic year.
What have we got to lose? After all, if you fight, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. If you don't fight back, you'll always lose.
Following the national pay negotiations meeting on 11 July the Higher Education Service Group Executive (HESGE) met last week to consider their response to the consolidated offer of a £150 lump sum increase on all pay points made by the higher education employers.
The view of the HESGE was that the offer failed to meet the reasonable expectations of staff to receive an increase in line with inflation. This is the third year of minimal increases in higher education and members are suffering real cuts in their standards of living.
The HESGE therefore decided not to accept the offer and to notify the employers that they wished to invoke the dispute resolution process within the national agreement. This means that UNISON will have a further series of meeting with the higher education employers to try and resolve our differences.
Higher Education Circular on Pay Negotiations August 2011 Newsletter Template in Word
Newsletter Template 2 Birmingham Branch in Publisher