Bosses condemn strike call

May 14, 1999

Employers have slammed strike action by lecturers in old universities as "inappropriate and untimely".

Lecturers will walk out on May 25, heralding a summer of disruption to exams, admissions and administration. More strikes may follow early in the next academic year if employers fail to improve their 3.5 per cent pay offer.

In an Association of University Teachers ballot, 58 per cent voted in favour of strikes, while 68 per cent voted for action short of a strike.

But a spokesman for the Universities and Colleges Employers Association said that only 11 per cent of the 91,400 academics, researchers and administrators in old universities had voted to strike.

He said unions should wait for publication of the Bett report on staff pay and conditions, adding that industrial action would punish students and damage higher education unnecessarily.

Delegates to the union's annual meeting at Scarborough voted to:

* Stop work on appraisal, teaching quality and the research assessment exercise from June 1

* Take no part in the examinations system on four days in June, to be selected by the local association

* Take no part in recruitment and admissions on four days in August, selected in the same way

* Stop filling in selected administrative forms from June 14

* Unplug phones and ignore email on designated dates

* Withdraw from designated institutional meetings next term.

Addressing the conference, AUT president Chris Banister said: "Now is the time for us to say firmly, enough is enough and to make it clear that further exploitation of university staff is not the way to build the future."

Academic staff in new universities and higher education colleges have also voted in favour of strikes if employers fail to offer them more than 3.5 per cent.

A ballot by lecturers' union Natfhe of the union's 14 regions, representing 60 branches and 18,000 academic staff, found every region supported strike action.

The union will formally present its claim to the UCEA on June 3 following ratification by its annual conference. It will include a warning that Natfhe will launch an official strike ballot and move to take action, unless it receives an offer substantially higher than 3.5 per cent within two weeks.

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