LAST week's front-page headline "CVCP axe over pay bargainers" was somewhat stronger than the story underneath (THES, March 7). Whatever the outcome of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association review, most people want to retain some kind of national pay forum. That was clear from UCEA's three rounds of consultation. The problem is translating the wish into practice.
The pressures described by Sir Graeme Davies will not go away. His comment that "the sector is so much more diverse that to expect a single body to cater for different groups of interest is probably impractical" is understandable. That is why AUT was so strongly opposed to single-table bargaining. But it would be irresponsible to abandon the attempt to maintain a national pay forum and national employers' organisation.
There is a consensus to retain some kind of national pay framework despite acute cash pressures. This is why the association has campaigned for a pay review body. It is the only system with the authority to retain a national pay framework. Every other pay review body has underpinned the funding and political will needed to sustain national pay.
The CVCP can either allow the drift into break-up and pay chaos, which will not be cheap for anyone, or it can back the judgement of its negotiators in the academic and related staffs' joint national committee to support a pay review body and thus help preserve the nation's higher education system. That is the real choice.
Chair AUT employment committee