Deal with a little local problem 1

May 12, 2006

Your report "Union fears rift on local deals" (May 5) highlights the danger that employers will seek to use a combination of punitive deductions sticks and local pay deal carrots to get staff to accept pay offers that fall well short of a reasonable settlement.

There is absolutely no reason to believe that local pay offers are the solution to poor pay in higher education. On the contrary, local bargaining will have disastrous effects for most of the academic and academic-related staff that lecturers' union Natfhe and the Association of University Teachers represent. It would lead to inequality, enormous waste and undermine medium-term pay levels for most staff.

Local bargaining will lead to a minority of institutions paying a little more while the majority pay less. It will also, within all institutions, greatly expand the number of staff paid according to market supplements, profit-related pay, spot rates and other systems that are opaque and potentially discriminatory. It will destabilise the sector and in particular disadvantage teaching-focused institutions, as higher staff-to-student ratios and lower units of funding will result in lower pay in those institutions delivering government policy on widening participation.

Local bargaining will waste vast amounts of staff time on local negotiations in nearly 200 institutions, as the Framework Agreement has shown.

Finally, the local offers being floated are very poor compared with what is needed to restore academic staff pay - and are only marginally above the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association offer. St Andrews University's offer of 12 per cent over three years is poor given the substantial increase in funding the sector has had this year.

That is why Natfhe and the AUT have clear, repeated conference policies opposing local bargaining and together both unions will oppose such divide-and-rule tactics from employers.

Roger Kline

Head of higher education, Natfhe

to read this article.

Register to continue

Get a month's unlimited access to THE content online. Just register and complete your career summary.

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments