The Association of University Teachers this week began "naming and shaming" universities it claimed were not making enough progress towards implementing last year's pay framework, writes Phil Baty.
In a full-page advertisement in today's Times Higher , the AUT names Cardiff, Dundee and Sheffield universities as the first three members of its "hall of shame". It promises further names and warns: "Before you apply for a job, check to see if the institution is in AUT's hall of shame."
But the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association called the union's criticisms "extremely premature", citing the August 2006 deadline for implementing the pay framework.
The AUT said Cardiff had made "no concrete proposals" about new job grades and had "failed to give key commitments" on keeping the pay of academic and academic-related staff in harmony.
The university said its recent merger had absorbed resources, but insisted that it was committed to implementing the deal within the agreed timescale.
The AUT said Sheffield's plans would leave some research and academic-related staff worse off.
Sheffield said it was engaged in constructive dialogue with staff and was confident it would agree a package of "real improvements" for staff.
The AUT said that Dundee had produced proposals that would mean career earning losses as staff take longer to progress.
Dundee said that it was costing a new structure and would not agree a new model until it completed this exercise.
Jocelyn Prudence, the chief executive of Ucea, said that a third of the sector planned to implement the deal by this August, and no institution had thus far indicated that it would fail to meet the deadline.