AUT call to action over pay

January 30, 1998

The Association of University Teachers has agreed to prepare for industrial action, including one-day strikes, if its pay demands are not met, writes Harriet Swain.

Members at the winter council meeting last week agreed to plan for a long campaign to secure the largest pay rise possible and a pay review body. They will follow a strategy of non-cooperation and disruption in universities to highlight the heavy workload of staff and the need for formal pay review.

This will include refusing to comply with recommendations from Lord Dearing's Committee of Inquiry, such as helping staff and students in information technology, reviewing postgraduate research training and developing admissions procedures. A key element will be declining voluntary work on higher education courses in further education institutions to try to disrupt government proposals to expand student numbers through sub-degree courses.

In other action, staff may resign as external examiners and refuse to referee publications and grant proposals or to sit on funding or research council committees.

Ballot papers will go out in the next few weeks. Action is likely to start in early April, to coincide with the salary settlement date for pre-1992 institutions. Members in post-1992 institutions will be expected to take part though they do not receive their pay offer until September.

David Green, AUT representative at Bristol University and a member of the executive, said: "We should be as annoying and disruptive as we can, until such time as the government says, 'Let's give them a pay review body'."

The union also pledged its support for plans by the National Union of Students for a national shutdown later this term. The AUT's general secretary, David Triesman, said he had written to the NUS president saying no student would be penalised for taking part in any form of action.

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