Deliver pay deal, union warns

April 8, 2005

The Association of University Teachers is to name and shame universities that it argues have been slow to implement the new pay framework for academics, as frustration grows that the majority of staff are yet to benefit from the deal hammered out a year ago between employers and unions.

The framework signals the biggest overhaul of academic pay in 40 years. It is intended to ensure greater pay equality and transparency for employees, creating a single pay spine for all staff - from porters to professors.

But half of universities have chosen to finalise the deal in August 2006 - the latest possible date for implementation. A survey carried out by the AUT in February and March described progress as "too slow".

Sally Hunt, AUT general secretary, said: "We are launching a major campaign to put pressure on employers to speed up implementation. The slow rate of progress is utterly frustrating."

The union has identified Dundee, Newcastle, Sheffield and Cardiff, among others, as universities in which negotiations are proving difficult. There are concerns that current proposals from these universities would give their staff a worse deal than the one they have now. The union intends to name institutions in a series of newspaper advertisements.

But the union also highlights examples of speedy implementation at Leeds and Manchester universities, the Open University and the School of Pharmacy, University of London. These deals all comply with a memorandum of understanding between unions and employers and offer substantial improvements in salary for staff, according to the AUT.

During last year's dispute, the union was criticised by employers for delaying progress. The AUT held out for the memorandum of understanding to ensure that none of its members lost out following the reforms. "Isn't it therefore time that Universities UK and the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association stopped pleading poverty and started to provide real leadership to institutions on pay?" Ms Hunt asked.

Jocelyn Prudence, chief executive of Ucea, responded: "A joint union and employer survey showed that a third of institutions are planning to implement before the start of the next academic year. This is laudable given the wide-ranging, fundamental nature of the changes. More surprising still - given the low percentage of local authorities that met their deadlines in similar circumstances - is the fact that all institutions are on course for completion by 2006."

At its annual council meeting this month, the AUT will debate six motions relating to implementation of the framework. A motion from the union's executive expresses "extreme concern about the rate of implementation of the 2004 framework agreement" and warns that "most employers have made inadequate progress". The motion warns that universities that do not implement the deal are likely to face industrial action.

A motion from Liverpool notes "grave concern" about the slow progress and warns that the framework has led to a "move away from national bargaining" that is "undermining the concept of a national public service".

The council will be asked to endorse a joint pay claim for 2005, from the AUT, lecturers' union Natfhe and the Educational Institute of Scotland, for a 10.6 per cent pay increase.

claire.sanders@thes.co.uk

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