Open letter to staff from national employers’ bodies on pay and pensions

The national bodies representing employers on pay and pensions have written an open letter to all staff at the institutions where UCU is planning industrial action.

The letter from the University and Colleges Employers’ Association (UCEA) and Universities UK (UUK) – the respective lead bodies on pay and pensions – includes the following points. The data quoted below is sector wide, not Leeds specific.


  • Employers have made huge efforts over the last 18 months to find a jointly acceptable solution to the pension scheme's funding challenges, including: protecting member benefits at current levels, paying 65p in every pound of increased cost to do this; collectively contributing an additional £250 million a year to the scheme, by increasing employer contributions from 18% of salary to 21.1%; and commissioning advice, with UCU, from a joint panel of experts (the Joint Expert Panel, or JEP) and using its recommendations to deliver positive change.
  • It is hoped that publication of the JEP’s second report will present UUK and UCU with the opportunity to develop a valuable and sustainable future for the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).
  • USS is one of the best pension schemes in the country, with average payments in retirement worth nearly three times the national average for private sector defined benefit schemes, and comparable to government-backed public sector schemes.

Pay and equality issues

  • UCEA advised institutions to implement the final pay offer increases of between 3.65% and 1.8% in August, rather than make thousands of staff covered wait many more months to receive their increased pay.
  • Incorporating the incremental and progression increases due under individual pay arrangements, two-thirds of academic colleagues will have seen pay increases in 2019 of 4.8%.
  • In more than meeting the prevailing level of inflation this year – 1.7% at August and 1.5% now – the pay increases have ensured the national pay spine has maintained its value in real terms over the past six negotiating years.
  • Across the collective of 147 institutions represented by UCEA, it is very clear that they simply cannot afford to put more this year’s pay increases than they already have.
  • While the collective employers’ view is that a fair and realistic outcome has been reached on pay, UCEA has invited UCU to meet to discuss three other themes around workload, gender pay/equality and casual employment arrangements.

Resolving the disputes

UCEA and UUK continue to talk to UCU in the hope of finding a way of averting industrial action. To meet the union’s current demands on each of their disputes, however, employers would have to divert unsustainable amounts of money from other budgets with potential consequences including for jobs, student support, course closures and larger class sizes. 

Keep up to date at Leeds

News and information will be shared throughout the planned industrial action on our Industrial Action In Depth section. Plus, look out for eNews extra: industrial action, a regular all-staff email we're sharing in addition to our usual fortnightly eNews.

Posted in: