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Lowest paid UEA workers escape pay freeze after union deal

PUBLISHED: 08:41 20 August 2020 | UPDATED: 11:05 20 August 2020

The UEA sign, Earlham Road entrance. Picture: Denise Bradley

The UEA sign, Earlham Road entrance. Picture: Denise Bradley

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The University of East Anglia has struck a deal with unions to protect lower-paid staff from planned pay cuts.

The University of East Anglia wanted to impose a blanket pay freeze across all staff. Picture: UEAThe University of East Anglia wanted to impose a blanket pay freeze across all staff. Picture: UEA

UEA faces a £35m financial shortfall because of Covid-19 and has already asked staff to take voluntary pay cuts through reduced hours and voluntary redundancies.

University bosses also wanted to impose a blanket pay freeze across all staff, delaying scheduled incremental rises for long service.

But following talks with campus unions, the UEA has agreed not to subject lower-paid staff to the increment freeze and to continue working to avoid compulsory redundancies.

Vice Chancellor David Richardson part of the executive team coping with a predicted shortfall of up to £35m due to coronavirus. Picture: UEAVice Chancellor David Richardson part of the executive team coping with a predicted shortfall of up to £35m due to coronavirus. Picture: UEA

MORE: Predicted £35m losses sees UEA ask staff to take pay cuts and cut hours

UNISON, the union for cleaners, administrators, student support workers and other professional staff, and lecturers’ union UCU have accepted the deal.

Staff across higher education already face a pay freeze next year after national employers said they would not increase wages in pay talks earlier this month.

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UNISON UEA branch secretary Amanda Chenery-Howes said: “This has been an incredibly difficult time for staff at the university — not only have we had Covid-19 hanging over us, but the threat of losing jobs and pay as well.

“If UEA is going to successfully emerge from lockdown it’s the cleaners, IT technicians and facilities staff who will make it possible as much as anyone else. It’s right that their pay is protected.”

Last month the UEA, which employs 3,712 people, said it expected to be “significantly impacted” by a fall in the numbers of overseas students next year, as well as “uncertainty” about the choices being made by UK and EU students.

A UEA spokesperson said: “These are challenging and unprecedented times for everyone and we are working with campus unions to ensure the university can adapt quickly and effectively. This was one of a series of measures we have adopted in consultation with campus unions.

“UEA has strong economic foundations, but like all universities across the world we are not immune to the financial impact the pandemic has caused.

MORE: Students still face new grades scramble for university places

“Looking ahead to the next academic year we believe we will face between a £30m to £35m reduction in revenue.

“We are acting now to address the longer term effects to ensure we can continue to deliver excellence in education and secure our future staff, student and research success.

“We have been working productively with the unions and as well as the increment pay freeze we have offered all staff the opportunity to either take a voluntary reduction in working hours and pay or a voluntary reduction in pay.”


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