Archive (2013-2014)

HAS – Redundancies & anti-social contracts (2013)

Redundancies and pay cuts at midnight

114 HAS staff facing Redundancy, Pay Cuts or anti social contracts

See the flyer and sign the online petition.

The University have recently announced, at a a few hours notice, proposals affecting over 114 staff in HAS.  Proposals have included redundancies, removing shift allowances from band 100 staff, moving staff onto any 5 day in 7 contracts and other staff onto annualised hours whilst downgrading other staff.

These proposed changes were announced with no advance notice to the trade unions, with night staff being called to meetings at midnight. We are currently meeting with staff affected and will be meeting senior management soon to discuss our serious concerns. What is clear however is that once again it’s the lowest paid staff being asked to take the hit and frontline staff not management at risk of redundancy.  You could argue we need more Indians and less Chiefs.

As one member of low paid staff said, ‘Half my wages goes on my rent, what am I meant to do now?’ Many staff have childcare and caring responsibilities and are being told that if they can’t do new evening and weekend shift patterns they have to leave – without a penny. Meanwhile not a single senior manager appears to be cut and staff getting over £100, 000 per year are unaffected!

More to Come

We are expecting further restructures after Easter. Our strength is in numbers, so if you have a colleague who is currently without the protection of a trade union please ask them to join UNISON straightaway.

More members = a Bigger Voice for all

We will be sending out more on this next week.

Advice for staff affected

Please see general advice for members facing redundancy and redeployment. Please also discuss this with your rep.

Individual 1- 2 -1 meetings and UNISON representation

We strongly recommend that everyone takes a rep with them to meetings with management to discuss the proposals.

5 in 7 at the Business School

We were deeply concerned at the proposal to bring in an any-five-days-in-seven working pattern at the Business School. We urged you, your non-UNISON colleagues, friends and family to send this letter to Charlotte Wellington, Director of Operations in the College of Social Sciences to express your dismay at this encroachment on our contracts.

The outcome was that the University have withdrawn their proposal and will no longer be forcing anyone to change contracts as a result of this consultation.


UNISON are working hard to negotiate the best possible deal within the new government legislation on Pensions. Please note the proposals only affect staff receiving 10% flexible benefit who are not in BPAS, USS, GPPS or an NHS Scheme. There are some key area’s of the University proposal that we believe should be changed:

  • Staff who do not automatically need to be enrolled into NEST should be able to keep their 10% flexible benefit
  • Exploring having a variable contribution rate to the GPPS scheme as an alternative to NEST
  • Staff being able to register personal private pensions in order to keep their 10% flexible benefit given they have taken University advice and paid into a personal pension scheme
  • That the University should provide Independent Financial advice once the plans are finalised as part of being a responsible employer

Please see the attached ‘UNISON Pensions and Flexible benefits Consultation advice’ for more details

Also attached is the University table showing how it affects you and the letter you should have received from the University inviting you to the consultation meetings.

If you would like more advice please contact Matthew Raine on m.j.raine@bham.ac.uk or x58283 . Please note that the law prevents UNISON officials can giving financial advice.

Please see September enewsletter for staff affected by the University proposals to automatically enroll staff in the government NEST pension scheme. The proposal only affects staff not in BPAS, USS or GPPS.

If you have any questions please email Matt Raine m.j.raine@bham.ac.uk

Pictures of the UNISON Protest for decent pay, November 2011

Thanks to Stuart for taking the pictures


Outcome of industrial action

Strike over after University agrees to pay the equivalent of the National Living Wage and early talks for 2014. 

UPDATE: The University have agreed to pay the equivelant of the National Living Wage in August 2014 and again in August 2015. Negotiations on them becoming an accredited Living Wagee employer are ongoing. Over the 2 years the increase in pay for the lowest paid staff is expected to be around 5%

The University also agreed to a 2% pay rise in August 2014, double the original 1 they had budgeted for

Useful links

Joint Trade Union Pay Claim 2013/14


These claims are submitted jointly on behalf of the support staff trade unions.

The settlement of the 2012/13 negotiating round resulted in a further erosion of members pay. The employer’s final offer of 1.1% represents a fourth consecutive year of wage restraint at the University of Birmingham. The effect is felt across all grades of staff in higher education. Our members are reporting real falls in income and difficulties in maintaining their standards of living.


The trade unions are seeking:

  • A percentage increase on all pay spine points of 6.1%, comprising of this years anticipated RPI, based on February 2013 and half of what our members have lost in the erosion of pay over the last 2-years
  • Low Pay – to address the issue of low pay at the University by achieving the National Living Wage for all staff. This should be achieved by the removal of the bottom points on the pay spine


For most staff the last four settlements have amounted to approximately a 3.8% increase in pay. When the annualised RPI increases over this period are combined with the forecast RPI rate up to August 2013, cumulative inflation will have increased by approximately 14.7%. The result in real terms is a cut of over 10.9% in the value of take home pay.

It is the trade union side’s view that these and future negotiations start from the basis that existing salaries will at least be increased by RPI Inflation as the opening position. Inflation over the last three years has consistently been over 3%. A range of economic forecasters including the Bank of England are predicting that inflation will remain around these levels for the next two to three years.

Support Staff at the University have seen substantial falls in their standards of living over this period and the trade union side believes that continued pay restraint is unsustainable if the University wish to recruit and retain high quality staff that are needed for a Russell Group university.

All-items RPI forecast, average






3.3% (actual)


3.2% (actual)


















2.7% (actual)



2.7% (actual)


Source: IDS Pay Report 1108, January 2013


With regard to the spending power of take-home pay over this same period, a band 400 member of staff  has lost in real terms £2030.23 per year or £169.19 per month in real terms – this is undeniably a very real drop in staff living standards.

Over this same reference period, the loss in value of pay is compounded by the continuous increase, typically above the prevailing rate of inflation, in the cost of essential goods such as food, fuel, travel and energy. This has resulted in University staff having less disposable income and facing increasing financial difficulties.

In the private sector, the latest IDS analysis of settlements puts private sector median increases at 2.8%, mean pay increases at 2.5 % with the lower quartile at 2% and the upper quartile at 3%

Pay of the Vice Chancellor

Over recent years it has become apparent that the pay for the VC has been more aligned to the remuneration of FTSE Chief Executives than the marginal increases endured by support staff at this University.

Since 2009, year on year the VC pay and benefits has increased by 15%, a real terms rise of 3.5% in contrast to a real terms pay cut for support staff.

It is the trade unions’ view that the increases in reward and the increasing numbers of senior staff attracting six figure salaries, need to be understood in the context of the lack of fairness and balance when pay cuts continue to be the experience of the vast majority of staff.

The trade union side believe that the pay of the Vice-Chancellor should be capped at ten times the level of pay of the lowest paid staff.


The University total income has continued to rise and it has maintained a healthy surplus. We expect that income from student fees will continue to increase, more than offsetting reductions in teaching grants and research funding allocations. This is reinforced by the continuing decline in the share of expenditure going towards staff pay and within this the further decline of support staff as a proportion of the total staff wage bill

Low Pay

Low pay in the University remains a key concern for the trade union side. As noted above, the lowest paid staff have been hit hardest by the increases in essential items such as the cost of food and fuel that have increased in price in excess of the general rate of inflation. On average, the lowest 10% of earners spend over 25% of their income on food compared to just 4% for the highest 10% of earners.

The trade unions, in line with the views expressed by all political parties believe that the National Living Wage should be the minimum threshold for low pay in the sector. The National Living Wage is independently calculated and both our current Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition have both said employers should pay it (see www.livingwage.org.uk). They are supported in this by the National Union of Students. This is currently set at £7.45 per hour outside London and does not include the cost of any pension, running a car, debt repayments and assumes someone is living in a council house, conditions which for the majority of low paid staff do not apply leaving them further below the poverty line.

The trade unions claim is to address the issue of low pay in the University by achieving the Living Wage for all staff. This should be achieved through the removal of the bottom spine point on the pay spine

Information and negotiations.

The joint trade unions are keen to negotiate a fair settlement for staff within a reasonable time period. Some years ago the pay settlement date was moved from April to August to allow the University to make an offer in good time.

To enable us to engage fully in negotiations we are asking the University to provide the joint union side with the following information:

  • The number of support staff by spinal point as of 1st April 2013
  • The number of support staff by band and budget centre for each of the last 5 years, as of 1st April each year
  • The University forecast budget (its starting point) for each of the last 5 years
  • The proportion of University expenditure on support for the last 5 years by University financial year
  • The turnover rate of support staff by band for the last 5 years

We are seeking a response on the above information by no later than Friday 21stJune and for a meeting to take place the following week to begin the pay bargaining process, to be followed by an agreed series of meetings over the next few weeks to enable the resolution of the pay negotiations as early as possible.

Pro Vice chancellor staffing and UEB Member

The trade unions are again seeking the involvement of a member of the University Executive Board with a mandate to negotiate, to take part in these negotiations and believe it is appropriate that we meet with the Pro Vice chancellor for staffing as part of these negotiations.


To help ensure the process is done as quickly as possible please send all correspondence to Matthew Raine as JTUC Secretary and a copy in both David Westwood, Unite secretary and Karen Leonard, GMB regional officer


Higher Education is going through a period of almost unprecedented and rapid change. There are increasing expectations from government, employers and students that all HE staff will continue to deliver excellence in teaching, research and support.

The University is continuing to go through a period of change. There are increasing expectations from students, academics and external bodies who contract with the University for us to deliver excellence in teaching, research, support and consultancy work.

The Joint trade unions are not against change however over recent years, it’s clear that members have been be rewarded with small increases in pay that have resulted in year on year pay cuts despite working harder and longer than ever.

If the pattern of bargaining outcomes over the last four years repeats itself in the coming years, members’ pay will continue decline.

The trade unions believe that our claim is reasonable and justified for the reasons given above and we look forward to a positive response to the claim.

Support fund

UPDATE: Applications for the industrial action support fund have now closed. UNISON do offer ongoing national support to any member who finds themself in financial hardship can access help through There for You, UNISON’s national charity for its members.

We know many of you are struggling financially; that’s why we are taking strike action to win a fair pay deal for all and the Living Wage of £7.65 per hour for the lowest paid.
We have set up a support fund to help you. We know everyone is in a different situation, regardless of whether you are band 100 or band 500.
We will make sure you can pay all of your essential bills and have something to live on.
The application process is straight forward and simple:
  1. Fill in the application form.
  2. Think about how much you need to apply for. This can be up to 100% of the money you have lost but we know many people find losing the whole days pay hard and just need a bit of help towards it.
  3. Hand in the application form with your payslip showing how much has been deducted to any branch officer. Remember, if there is any officer you don’t want seeing your application just mark there name on the form. We understand the information is private and will be kept confidential
Applications will be processed the same night as you apply (Monday to Friday) and a cheque given to you the next day. If you have any questions any branch officer will be happy to help and we will have application forms with us on the strike day.

Support from students

“It is outrageous that an institution whose Vice Chancellor has the highest basic salary of any university in the country (£400K) is still not paying its frontline staff the Living Wage.” Hattie Craig, Vice President (Education)

“Support staff make our studies possible, so paying them the Living Wage is the least the university can do.” – Tom Wragg, Vice President (Democracy and Resources)

“I find it disgusting that I attend a university which does not pay its staff enough to live off while the management earn hundreds of thousands of pounds a year. The inequality is sickening. The Living Wage should be implemented immediately” – Pat Grady. 3rd Year Political Science.

“The university is an educational institution which should have the students and their staff at the heart of it, and encourage their healthy debate, equality, diversity and democracy in the running of things. Instead we see disproportion and inequality in the ratios of men to women, white to ethnic, middle class to working class. The students are taken aboard on fear, by burdening them with debt and the staff are being given, what are effectively, pay cuts, while the marketers at the top gorge the money for themselves. The situation is terrible, and treasonous to the goal of education and society.” – Mohammed Mumit, 3rd Year Theoretical Physics student

“Just before christmas our lovely Vice Chancellor sent an email out to staff thanking them for their hard work and for their help in becoming University of the Year. He was right, if there is anyone who deserves this award then it is the cleaners, the librarians, our departemental staff, security and all other employees at this university who work incredibly hard every day and night to make sure that all of us have a safe place to learn in. Eastwood, stop writing hypocritical emails. Instead, thank your staff by finally treating them with respect, by paying them the living wage, by improving their working conditions and maybe start with cutting your own wage.“  – Deborah Hermanns, European Politics, Society and Economics, International Students Guild Councillor, NUS delegate

“If we’re one of the best Universities in the country, why can’t we pay our hard-working staff the Living Wage?” – Alex Deam, Media Miniforum Guild Councillor

Support from local MPs and councillors

We have received support for the call for the University of Birmingham to pay the Living Wage from Gisela Stuart MP for Edgbaston, Steve McCabe MP for Selly Oak, Richard Burden MP for Northfield and Jack Dromey, MP for Erdington, who join have joined the leaders of Birmingham City Council in backing the campaign. Here is what a couple of them have to say:

Deputy Leader (Birmingham City Council), Cllr Ian Ward:

“The Council would urge all employers in Birmingham to adopt the Living Wage. It is only right that hard-working employees get a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work”.

“The living wage makes a real improvement to the quality of life for those affected”.

“Research from elsewhere where it has been introduced shows attendance, motivation and loyalty are all improved, along with better recruitment and retention of workers.”

Cllr Stewart Stacey, Cabinet Member for Commissioning, Contracting and Procurement, who launched the Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility:

“One of the first acts of this Labour administration on taking control of the Council in May 2012 was to implement the Living Wage for our lowest paid employees.  We are committed to being a Living Wage employer, and we strongly urge those with whom we do business and all responsible local employers to follow our lead.”

 Richard Burden MP for Longbridge:

“There are currently 4.8 million workers in the country who aren’t paid enough to get by. Prices have risen in 39 of 40 months of David Cameron’s Government and people are increasingly struggling to cope with the cost of living crisis.

“We know low pay costs businesses in productivity and morale, and costs the Government in social security payments and reduced tax revenue. That’s why Labour supports the principle of a living wage. Under a future Labour Government firms which sign up to paying the living wage will benefit from a 12-month tax rebate – of up to £1,000 – for every low paid worker who sees their pay rise to the living wage.

“Obviously, the opportunity of change under a Labour Government won’t come until 2015. But many public and private sector organisations are already showing that you can deliver fairness in tough times. Birmingham City Council took a bold step in approving a minimum wage of £7.20 for 3000 staff in 2012, and encouraging contractors to do the same. The Living Wage is not just good for the individual but good for business and society too. It gives people dignity and motivation at work, gives employers better results and less staff turnover, boosts spending power in the local economy, and cuts the benefits bill.

“That’s why I support a Living Wage for all the support staff at Birmingham University, and have written to the Vice Chancellor urging him to do all he can to resolve this dispute and to help make Birmingham a living wage city.”

Bank Holidays & closed days

Bank Holidays – your help needed to win a fair deal!

At a branch meeting we discussed the University’s proposals for bank holidays and closed days and agreed the importance of maintaining enhanced rates of pay for staff working on them regardless of whether it is in a voluntary or a compulsory role. This issue affects all staff as the University appear to be trying to move to contracts where staff are paid a flat rate regardless of when they work ie Saturdays, Sundays, Bank holidays and Closed days, daytime or evening.

 Bank Holidays and Closed days – Key facts you need to know

  • The University proposal makes bank holidays and closed days into normal working days and just gives you another day off instead
  • You no longer receive enhanced pay for working bank holidays and closed days
  • There is likely to be an increase in bank holiday working as the cost to the University is cut
  • If there are not enough volunteers then you can be made to work a bank holiday as a normal working day in your contract
  • You may be required to book bank holidays and closed days off out of your annual leave. Your annual leave will be 40 days (25 days plus 15 bank holiday and closed days).

 What are UNISON doing about it?

  • We are raising the importance of work life balance, equality with staff who receive the shift allowance and that this is an unnecessary cutback in staff pay which staff have received for 16 years in negotiations with the University
  • We have written to all Birmingham MP’s highlighting this is a cutback to the lowest paid staff at the University
  • We are aiming for an agreement on both the number of Bank Holidays and Closed days staff are required to work and for an enhanced rate of pay

 What can we do about it?

Pass the petition around on email and facebook etc

  • Print off the Petition and get your family and friends to sign it.
  • Email your HR contact direct or if you don’t know who they are email Adrian Buckley, Deputy director of HR a.b.buckley@bham.ac.uk to ensure your viewpoint is heard
  • Make sure you go to a ‘one to one’ and say you believe Bank holidays are not normal working days and should be paid differently
  • Get your friends to join UNISON – we are saying to the University these proposals are not acceptable, have shown the University examples of other Universities who are paying more for bank holidays and are seeking further legal advice
  • If you have a letter or old University policy showing you should be paid at a higher rate we want to hear from you

Annualised hours working

Negotiations are on going with senior management regarding guidelines and policies to protect staff health and wellbeing. Further news soon.

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