Pay rises depend on goodwill 1

November 7, 2003

I read with deep concern the remarks of Jocelyn Prudence, chief executive of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, on the UCEA's proposed pay offer ("20 per cent pay rise plan fails to pacify unions", THES , October 24). Far from giving a 20 per cent pay rise, the majority of lecturers in post-92 institutions would get 3.44 per cent this year, which, with the relevant inflation rate of 2.9 per cent, would give a real increase of 0.54 per cent. Next year, staff would get no real pay rise if inflation reached 3 per cent.

The proposed increases for reaching local agreement on job evaluation are tiny (0.33 per cent for top-of-scale post-92 senior lecturers) and they depend on acceptance of the deal by individual institutions - something that UCEA is not prepared to guarantee and may even covertly discourage.

Additional "contribution" increments would not constitute a disguised increase such as in the schoolteachers' performance-related scheme, from which the vast majority of top-of-scale teachers benefited. Staff in universities and colleges have been offered no guarantee that any institution will offer the additional increments, or offer them on a scale to include all or most top-of-scale staff. There are no agreed criteria for awarding the increments and no nationally agreed procedure for making the awards.

In other words, the only certain pay increase in the offer is minuscule and the rest is dependent on the goodwill and honesty of individual institutions. Many academics will conclude that Prudence's grossly exaggerated account of the offered pay increases suggests that such qualities are entirely absent from the UCEA. Staff will doubtless evaluate the offer accordingly.

David Fysh
Natfhe University of Portsmouth

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