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Issue 1847 (PDF)
The student newspaper of Imperial College London

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All staff to get minimum 4% wage boost after JTUs accept pay award

Announcement marks end to historic pay dispute.

Imperial Ucu Website Photo: Rolando Charles for Felix


in Issue 1847

All employees of Imperial College London will receive a minimum 4% increase in pay after members of the three Imperial-affiliated trade unions voted last month to accept the College’s pay award for 2024/25.

The announcement marks the end of a bitter two-year pay dispute between the Joint Trade Unions (JTUs) and Imperial’s negotiating team, which saw strikes and a marking and assessment boycott – the first in the university’s history.

UCU, UNISON, and Unite branch members at Imperial voted in favour of a £1,000 consolidated increase to annual full-time pay, backdated to 1st January 2024, followed by a minimum 3.14% pay increase from 1st August 2024.

Combined, the two increases amount to a median rise of 5.1%. All staff are guaranteed a 4% uplift, rising to 7% for those on the lowest pay scales.

Trade union negotiators had originally requested a median 6.1% increase in order to maintain real terms pay at its level in 2005, when Imperial withdrew from national pay bargaining.

Since 2005, the College has negotiated pay for all staff directly with representatives from the Imperial branches of three trade unions – UCU, Unite, and UNISON – known collectively as the Joint Trade Unions.

The trade unions recommended that their members vote to accept the university’s latest offer, saying: ‘For at least half of College staff, [Imperial’s offer] is above the current inflation rate which means we are starting to close the gap between pay and inflation.

‘While we believe that the College could afford more this year, [this offer] is the best that can be achieved through negotiation.’

Some trade union members were dismayed that even the highest earners would be guaranteed a 4% rise in salary, but the pay package was ultimately voted through.

In addition to the wage increases, Imperial says it will increase family emergency leave from three to five days from 1st August 2024 and commence a review of annual leave entitlements.

The university will also start work on long-awaited reforms to the pay scale for Professional, Technical, Operational, and Learning staff.

The JTUs’ collective spat over wages began in July 2022, when members of all three unions rejected Imperial’s pay award for the next academic year.

Declaring a formal dispute, they accused Imperial of ‘refusing to budge’ in negotiations. For the first time, all three unions commenced strike action together.

The trade unions escalated their action in May last year after members rejected Imperial’s 2023/24 pay award.

They argued that Imperial’s initial offer of a median 3.3% pay rise was a cut of around 8% in real terms, and disputed claims that the College could not afford a bigger pay rise.

Additionally, trade union members accused the College of engaging in ‘blackmail’ by offering a £500 one-off payment, conditional on acceptance of the 2023/24 pay award. The offer was withdrawn when union members rejected the pay package.

Imperial UCU said the university was treating staff ‘as a cost to be managed’ and ‘role playing in… the marketisation of higher education’.

Members of Imperial UCU, which represents academic staff, subsequently voted in favour of a marking and assessment boycott, agreeing to cease all summative marking and assessment duties.

Physics, Computing, and EEE students felt the effects most keenly, and faced delays of several months in receiving their end-of-year grades.

In a formal complaint over their department’s response to the boycott, Physics students claimed to have lost one in every 10 hours of lectures to strikes during the 2022/23 academic year.

The JTUs agreed to end industrial action in October 2023 ‘as a gesture of goodwill to facilitate pay negotiations’ in January.

Writing to staff last month, Provost Ian Walmsley said he was ‘glad that the formal acceptance of this offer will bring our pay disputes to an end.

‘I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who has worked through these significant negotiations.’

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