Bristol UCU Newsflash, 31st January: Pay and Grade Structure Proposals 2024

1) ​Pay and Grade Structure Proposals 2024

Dear all,

At our General Meeting last week, we shared with members the current University Pay and Grade Structure proposals, negotiated by trade union reps and University/HR officers over the course of October, November, and December 2023, and approved by the University Executive Board earlier this month. Bristol UCU School and Professional Service Reps have also seen the proposals and new grade structure in full.

Thanks to everyone who attended the General Meeting, and for your contributions.  

Members who were not able to attend can find a recording of branch co-Vice President John McTague describing the proposals and the context in which they’ve been made here [link].  

We will shortly be sharing an e-ballot/consultation with members to approve or not the proposals. This period will also see member Q&A sessions scheduled.

As this would be a change to our collectively agreed terms and conditions, as well to the collectively agreed implementation of the National Framework Agreement at the University of Bristol, we, (UCU) and the other recognised campus unions (Unite; Unison), need to approve explicitly any changes. Please note that the University of Bristol branch of Unite has approved the proposal; UoB Unison are currently consulting their members.

Below is an executive summary of the proposals:

  • The bottom of our pay spine will move up from point 4 to point 9 of the national pay spine. The shape/extent of grades A-C will be adjusted.
  • An additional spine point will be added to the top of grades A-L and the bottom point of those grades will be removed in a series of changes carried out over three years.  
  • A new grade will be created for Associate Professors called M0. AP pay rates will be the current rates increased by 1.5 percent.  
  • Spine points will also be added to the top and removed from the bottom professorial M grade ranges – note that progression is not automatic currently within these grades.  
  • Harmonisation of annual leave: all colleagues will get 25 days of annual leave from day of appointment, starting 1st January 2025. Previously colleagues on grades A-I needed five years of service to move from 23 to 25 days annual leave.  
  • These proposals will be implemented in 3 distinct annual tranches each August from August 2024, starting with grades A-I, and working up the higher grades/salaries.  
  • This means that from August 2024, a new top spine point will be added to grades A-I and no colleagues will be appointed to the bottom spine points of grades A-I. From August 2025, the bottom spine point from grades A-I will be removed, new top spine points will be added to Grades J and K, and no colleagues will be appointed to the bottom spine points of J-K. From August 2026, the bottom spine points from Grades J and K will be removed, a new top spine point will be added to Grade L, the new M0 grade will be introduced (spine points 0.1 £67,860–spine point 0.3 £71,983), and top and bottom points are removed from M grade ranges. The bottom point of L would disappear on 31st July 2027.

To read more:

Pay and Grade Structure Proposals Q&A [link]

Grade Structure – Changes by Year [link]

  • These proposals are the result of a series of negotiation meetings between a management negotiating team and the chairs of the three campus unions, this being a result of the agreement between the University and campus unions to enter into negotiations on the structure of salaries and grading at Bristol within the specific limits set by the national framework, following the marking and assessment boycott and the recognition to support staff during a cost of living crisis and in the context of declining pay. The negotiations were confidential at management’s request, which means trade union negotiators were not able to discuss the content of the meetings until negotiations concluded.  
  • Negotiators were given a specific financial envelope to work within: £9 million over three years. Trade union negotiators, although welcoming the extra investment, made it clear that this is not enough to address University staff pay and historic reward erosion.
  • These changes, if they went ahead, would be separate from national JNCHES pay bargaining. They are proposed changes to the University grade structure, where Bristol grades sit on the national pay spine. Any agreed increases to that national spine pay point would be applied to the new grade structure.
  • Campus trade unions are being consulted on these proposals because they constitute changes to our contracts and collective agreements; the university imposing them unilaterally would be grounds for a dispute. We are consulting with our members in February, and management expect a decision in March.
  • If the three trade unions did not agree to the proposals, then they would not go ahead.  

In short, these proposals would see:

  • A-L colleagues progressing to an additional top salary spine point in their grade (for example, a top spine point of 39/£48,350, up from spine point 38/£46,974 for a Grade J Lecturer, SITS and e:Vision Developer, or Senior Research Associate, on the current national pay spine).
  • A-L colleagues starting at a higher starting salary spine point in a grade (for example, spine point 31/£38,205, up from spine point 30/£37,099 spine point for a Grade I TA, Student Administration Manager, or Pathway 2 Research Associate on the current pay spine)
  • A pay increase/new grade for Associate Professors (avoiding pay compression at the top of the scale).
  • New, higher bottom and top increments for Grade M grade ranges.
  • 2 additional holiday days for new A-I starters.
  • A new mid-point starting salary for TSR/HPT staff.

It is important to note that:

  • These pay and grade structures are staggered over 3 years. They are primarily staggered to be within the overall £ 9 million financial envelope for the pay and grade structure changes, to benefit lower-paid colleagues, represented mainly by Unite and Unison benefit, first, and to ensure a progressive pay structure that does not simply shift pay compression up (or down) the pay scale,
  • We will see overlap between grades over this transition period, for example, the rate of pay at the top of a grade may be higher than that at the bottom of the next grade up; a scenario in which a colleague appointed in July 2024 on the bottom spine point would be on a lower spine point than a colleague appointed on the same grade, on the bottom spine point, in August 2024.  

This email is chiefly intended to share information as widely as possible. We do have some time to digest the proposals and seek clarifications from management before deciding as a branch whether to accept or reject them.

These changes do represent a net incremental benefit for UCU and campus union members at the University of Bristol. The decision that we have to take as a branch is whether to bank these positive changes at this stage, or to reject these proposals and have no potential improvement to our pay sans an improved negotiating offer from the University following our non-acceptance.

Please take the time to read through the proposals, talk to one another and your reps about them, and contact with any queries or if you spot particular problems with the proposals. The branch officer team will be in touch about further consultation in due course.  

Please also note that further improvements to benefit talks are scheduled for this Autumn.