University lecturers have accepted a 2.7 per cent pay rise and claimed victory in their campaign against sweeping changes to their salary structure.
David Triesman, general secretary of the Association of University Teachers, admitted the pay offer was disappointing but accepted that some universities had no more to offer, given that their overall pay bill would rise 3.9 per cent due to incremental progression. No progress was made on structural reform as part of the deal because the AUT rejected the employers' counter-proposals for "competence certificates".
Executive member Penny Holloway revealed that the Universities and Colleges Employers Association proposed an end to automatic incremental progression.
"In its place the vice chancellors wanted to introduce certificates of satisfactory performance," she said at the AUT's summer conference in Weston-super-Mare. "Following receipt of one of these certificates, you could then move up to the next increment. This met outright rejection from the AUT."
Stephen Rouse, chief executive of the UCEA, said: "There is a demand from institutions that increments should only be payable where performance is reported as satisfactory. Both sides agreed that all that could be done this year was the pay deal and to put all the other matters on the agenda for the future."
In accepting the pay offer, some AUT delegates remained unhappy that workload was not addressed and others claimed the rise only represented 2.35 per cent because of the 0.35 per cent lump sum awarded last year.
But there was widespread agreement that AUT branches had convinced vice chancellors not to back any of the UCEA's proposals for reforming national bargaining, which include derecognition in some areas, splitting academic and academic related staff and some move to local bargaining.
The AUT's own soundings led it to believe that vice chancellors in the old universities were against any change by 34 to 6. The consultation period ends on Wednesday and Mr Rouse would not comment before reporting to the UCEA board next month.
Executive member Alan Carr said: "We have faced perhaps the biggest threat the AUT has faced in its history - the threat of de-recognition for a substantial proportion of the membership and of being able to survive as a viable and autonomous organisation."
Calls for strike action during exams next month over the consultations was rejected but delegates agreed to "assess the willingness of their members to take appropriate local action, co-ordinated nationally, if necessary against university managements seeking to destroy national pay scales or the link between academic and academic-related staff".