AUT left to fight alone as Natfhe warms to pay deal

October 17, 2003

The Association of University Teachers could be left to fight alone for a better pay deal as public-sector union Unison joined the Transport and General Workers Union in accepting a pay offer this week, writes Phil Baty.

As The THES went to press, Unison confirmed an "overwhelming" 85 per cent vote in favour of the deal, which offers a 7.7 per cent pay rise over two years. The T&G has already accepted the offer, and the other three non-academic unions were expected to follow suit by the end of the week.

Lecturers' union Natfhe also appeared set to recommend the offer to its members.

The two academic unions were due to hold conferences of their local branch leaders this week to agree a line on the offer before balloting members over the next fortnight. The AUT remains deeply concerned about the offer, but Natfhe seems to be rapidly warming to it.

The Natfhe executive has warned that the offer "remains unacceptable in its current form". It wants to reopen talks on the 3 per cent pay offer for the second year if inflation rises above 3 per cent, and it wants national agreed guidance on pay increments that depend on staff "contribution". But the union has accepted that the deal "represents the best settlement that can be achieved through negotiation" and is likely to recommend it to members.

AUT general secretary Sally Hunt sent a letter to members last week warning that industrial action was on the cards.

Jocelyn Prudence, chief executive of the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association, said: "It's encouraging that the first results are positive and unequivocal. We are working to meet the concerns of the academic unions."

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