Leader:Magic of the market

October 7, 2005

It is a rather strange state of affairs when a trade union firmly rooted to the principle of national pay bargaining publicly celebrates the arrival of local pay deals and the opening-up of a clear market for academic jobs.

But the sheer size of the salary increases secured by the Association of University Teachers in a series of local settlements clearly gives the union something to celebrate.

The AUT credits its action in taking its members out on a controversial strike last year with helping to secure the increases, which amount to almost 30 per cent for some members. Employers understandably emphasise the need to entice good staff with attractive salary packages.

Some of the figures should be viewed with an element of caution because the pay rises are more modest at the top of the job grades on which the vast majority of ordinary academics are stuck. But the 11 agreements signed by the AUT so far offer clear increases above the minimum national levels recommended by the employers under the framework.

The deals set a high benchmark for the 80 per cent or so of universities that have yet to agree their framework reforms. Whether staff in other institutions can secure equally generous pay increases remains to be seen.

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