Pay freeze – latest updates

Update as of 2 October 2023

This is to confirm that in the recent consultation of all UCU members, 98% voted to reject senior management’s ‘pay freeze’ proposal.

At the time of writing, there are no further updates on what senior management intend to do with regard to their ‘pay freeze’ proposal, but the branch will continue to push for the increments in question to be paid.

An extraordinary JSNCC meeting has been called for Thursday 5 October to discuss the matter again.

Check your emails for the full summary of the pay freeze proposal and its flaws, and to provide feedback.


Update as of 12 September 2023

Senior management want to freeze automatic pay increments for nothing in return. Their “pay freeze” would mean automatic pay increments are withheld from staff, leading to a highly regressive, permanent collapse in real terms pay.

Senior management flatly refused to guarantee “no compulsory redundancies” in negotiations – there is no offer on the table if your union were to agree the “pay freeze’.

Senior management say they will impose redundancies if the “pay freeze” is not agreed by your union – yet they refuse to negotiate on job security. Clearly they want to cut pay andjobs and blame your union for their financial mismanagement: Don’t give them a free hit on pay.

Senior management flatly refused to guarantee “no detriment to workloads” or protection of research time in negotiations – again, there is no offer on the table if UCU were to agree the “pay freeze’.

JNCHES have already agreed to delay the national pay award of c. 5% – but the employer needs union agreement in order to freeze automatic pay increments.

Kent UNISON branch are also refusing to sign the “pay freeze” agreement.

Senior management tried to force through the pay freeze in a single day when the details had not even been agreed by the Sub-JSNCC. Senior management tried to scrap the UCU counter proposal to fund increments via executive pay cuts. Such a proposal would also remove the need for redundancies.


Update as of 25 August 2023

As a result of the University’s continuing precarious financial situation (the result, in large part, of poor management of finances for many years and a failure of leadership on issues such as student recruitment and retention), EG have proposed a 12-month pay freeze for all staff.

This would mean no cost of living increase (as mandated by the national pay agreement) due in August, no automatic increments up the pay spine (for which 1,509 staff across Grades 1-10 are eligible) due in October, and no academic promotion pay, also due in October, among other things.

Given the stark increase in the cost of living across the board, this amounts to an enormously damaging real-terms pay cut. In addition, this will disproportionately affect staff on lower grades, women, racially minoritised staff, and younger staff, as demonstrated by the EDI report on the Pay Freeze proposal. For note, the EDI team were not consulted during the pay freeze proposal being drawn up.

While the institution has already received agreement from UCEA to defer the national pay award for eleven months, the decision to withhold automatic increments is in breach of staff contracts. As a result, EG require the consent of trade union and staff representatives, through the JSNCC, to implement this part of the pay freeze.

As it stands, following a number of negotiations with members of EG, and an extraordinary JSNCC meeting on Thursday (24 August), the representatives of all trade unions on campus (UCU alongside GMB, Unison and Unite) are refusing to sign the agreement.

Therefore, management must come up with an alternative proposal, one which does not balance the books on lower grade staff who need a pay rise to combat the cost-of-living crisis. Staff cannot be expected to suffer financially for mistakes made by EG.

Throughout this process, UCU reps have been engaged in meaningful and constructive dialogue with management. UCU have put forward a number of proposals to management to help address or mitigate some of the issues involved in the pay freeze:

  • That the pay freeze comes with a guarantee that there be no compulsory redundancies for two years and a commitment to protect workloads, especially research time.
  • That automatic increments go ahead in October, funded by temporary 10% pay cuts to the highest earners, led by all members of EG.
  • That a new collective agreement is put forward which prioritises the lowest grades, giving them increments & providing a cost-of-living payment, funded by voluntary pay cuts among EG (and possibly other high earners).

UCU have formally requested that to demonstrate leadership, and in recognition of the moral obligation to protect staff from severe financial hardship, that all members of EG should take a 1-year, minimum 10% pay cut to protect the lowest grades. At present only 3/12 EG members have agreed to volunteer a pay cut, including Karen. If all 12 members of EG accepted, then that saving could fund automatic increments for grades 1-3.

These proposals will be taken to EG and discussed, and then returned to TU and staff reps for consideration at the next JSNCC meeting, on 6 September.

Once a clear proposal emerges which is progressive UCU will shortly be contacting all members to get their input before any further discussions with management.