How welcome to see an editorial that celebrates the high salary benchmarks being set by the Association of Univer-sity Teachers' pay deals ("Magic of the market", October 7).JThe message to the 80 per cent of institutions that have not yet negotiated new packages is clear: "Agree a competitive salary structure or risk losing out to those who have."J However, the AUT remains firmly committed to national bargaining. It is true that many of our members are doing well from these local negotiations, and they are a good start to our campaign to turn around two decades of salary stagnation. But the only way to secure enough long-term extra funding to transform overall pay levels in the sector is through a campaign targeted at the Universities and Colleges Employers Association. That is why the AUT and lecturers' union Natfhe are demanding that the employers keep the promise made to government ministers 18 months ago that "at least one third" of any extra income from top-up fees will be spent on boosting staff pay.
Despite what Jocelyn Prudence, chief executive of Ucea, says about local pay deals being welcomed, national bargaining is better for staff and employers. I know that many vice-chancellors and senior personnel staff regret last year's refusal by Ucea to negotiate a consistent national pay spine with grading that would be applicable everywhere. They know that centrally agreed pay is the only answer to the salary leapfrogging between institutions that will soon begin with local agreements.
While the AUT believes that national bargaining is the way forward, the 80 per cent of institutions dragging their feet should reflect that local pay determination provides no hiding place for an employer that does not value its staff.
General secretary, AUT