You are paid less - part 5

By Julia Charlton, Branch Chair, Northumbria University

From April 2016 there are legislative changes being introduced that may result in you paying higher National Insurance (NI) contributions. If you are a member of LGPS, TP or USS pension schemes then your National Insurance (NI) contributions will increase from April 2016. As an employee, youpay National Insurancecontributions if you earn more than £155 a week. The amount youpayis 10.6% to12% of your earnings above that limit up to £815 a week (for 2015 to 2016). The rate drops to 2% of your earnings over that amount. So for someone on top SL pay you lose all of your last pay rise and more. Members are telling UCU that the cost of living crisis is having a major impact on their ability to afford to continue in the sector.

Even including the 2% pay increase we won in 2014, our pay has fallen in real terms by 13% since August 2008. Last year our pay rise was even worse at 1%. In real-terms the value of our pay, against CPI and RPI, while stabilised in the short term, the overall trend is still downwards. Rent, transport costs and affordability of mortgages makes pay a key issue for so many of our members and therefore the union has to fight. Pay is especially acute for those members, and non-members, impacted by being on the lower grades or on hourly paid and fixed-term contracts. Therefore UCU has rightly placed equality as an important element of the pay claim. Couple this with increased pension contributions year on year for the last 5 years and you begin to see why you have no more in your pocket than you did in 2008 despite many pay rises.

On the 20th Jan 2016 Commenting on the latest labour market data published today (Wednesday) by the Office for National Statistics, which show a higher employment rate, but annual pay growth slowing to 2.0%, TUC General SecretaryFrances O’Gradysaid: “While wages are still rising, the rate of progress has slowed and the UK is still facing a lost decade on pay. We need a recovery that delivers both higher employment and strong pay growth.“

•UCU has agreed to a national pay campaign to start very soon.

• There is to be a consultation process, and Branch officers from Northumbria University will be attending on your behalf in Glasgow on 24th February 2016. We are planning a straw poll soon to find out what members think, so we can represent that feeling in Glasgow.

• UCU is moving towards the prompt submission of a pay claim and ballot (so we are going to have to go all-out to win the ballot). It is no use voting for action short of a strike (ASOS), but not strike action. ASOS is not the soft option many members believe it to be. Your pay can still be deducted. If you vote for ASOS you must vote for strike action too, and be prepared to carry that out. This is why we are asking members to contribute to the hardship fund locally.

The pension contribution rates for 2015/16 are shown in the table below

Lower Salary                Higher Salary               Contribution rate in 15/16

0                                 £25,999.99                          7.4%

£26,000                      £34,999.99                           8.6%

£35,000                      £41,499.99                           9.6%

£41,000                      £54,999.99                           10.2%  

£55,000                      £74,999.99                           11.3%

£75,000+                                                               11.7%