A good deal on offer or a sellout? 1

June 16, 2006

While it is clear that the pay offer being put to a ballot of University and College Union members falls short of the 23 per cent demanded by the Association of University Teachers and Natfhe, it is not nearly as poor as was suggested in "Unions gear up to sell deal to staff" (June 9).

The offer provides a 10.4 per cent increase in salaries over the first two years. This is a substantial improvement on the previous offer of 6 per cent over two years. Universities have agreed to open their books to us early enough for this to inform our negotiations for the third year's pay claim, so we will be in a position to argue for more money in year three. There are no strings to prevent us doing so and the 2.5 per cent agreed for 2008 is a floor upon which we can build. It is not a ceiling.

Additional gains made by the unions in the latest offer include: first, an examination of the structure of the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association so that its reform may be pursued to create a more useful employers' negotiating body; second, UCU insists that pay docked for partial performance should be returned.

I expect the overwhelming majority of UCU members will vote to accept this offer, however disappointing they find it, as it is the best available. Only those who are prepared to resume industrial action and who believe that a significant number of UCU members are prepared to do the same are likely to vote to reject it.

Simon Renton

London

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