Catch in tax dodge

October 4, 1996

The suggestion in your report ("Tax dodgers spared axe", THES, September ) that the branch of lecturers' union Natfhe at the University of West England was involved in negotiating preferential "no redundancy" arrangements for staff who sign up for profit-related pay is wholly inaccurate and damaging.

The facts are that Natfhe branch officers at the UWE have done their best to mitigate the worst features of a profit-related pay scheme for which they have little enthusiasm. They were deeply disturbed at the notion that those signing up for it would get special treatment with respect to selection for redundancy - and indeed we advised them that such an approach might well be unlawful. They certainly gave no approval for such a clause to be included in the scheme. To report that they did is to cast serious doubts on their integrity.Our union has done considerable work to persuade members and others of the damaging irrelevancy of profit-related pay schemes in higher education at a time when the sector is uniting to seek improved funding for equitable national pay arrangements across the board.

Our success in promoting this view can be seen at the universities of Central Lancashire, Sunderland and Teesside, where staff have made it clear that they want nothing to do with PRP. It is a shame that the only coverage you have given this work is a "shock" article that misrepresents local Natfhe officers and hints at dissension between unions.

Finally, we are concerned at the way The THES has attributed to Gillian Blunden, one of the branch officers, a quote on no compulsory redundancies that was from a statement sent within the institution. Out of context this appears to imply endorsement of a selective no-compulsory redundancy policy. This is not the Natfhe position at national or branch level.

Liz Allen Head of higher education Natfhe

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