Why are some vice-chancellors turning their backs on national bargaining? Following a derisory pay "settlement", we see that London South Bank University may withhold the 0.5 per cent increase. In light of government pressure for pay restraint, how can anyone agree with Alison Wolf's verdict that universities "are shackled" by national pay negotiations?
In fact, the joint negotiating and consultation arrangements deliver advantages to employers and the unions, offering a more structured and orderly forum for negotiating pay, terms and conditions. National pay agreements provide a level playing field and facilitate staff recruitment across the sector.
In contrast, local pay bargaining would create greater inequality within and across staff groups. It raises the spectre of rising industrial conflict at a time when the sector should be working collectively to press the Government to fund higher education properly.
Ronald Mendel, University and College Union branch secretary, University of Northampton.