Indian university lecturers have rejected a salaries and promotions package - the first for 12 years - as "deceptive" and an "insult".
They say that the proposal ignores the rise in the cost of urban living since their salaries were last revised in 1986.
They also want extra perks such as subsidised housing and reimbursement of medical, transport and telephone expenses.
Under the offer, a lecturer would begin at a monthly salary of Pounds 150 a month, a senior lecturer at about Pounds 200, a reader at about Pounds 250, and professor Pounds 300. This means an increase of barely Pounds 10-Pounds 15 a month over existing salaries.
The Federation of University and College Teachers' Associations, which represents the nearly quarter of a million lecturers, said it was considering protest action.
Education minister Murali Manohar Joshi, himself an "absentee" professor at Allahabad University, has said the "hike" he has announced is "the best the government can offer" and appealed to teachers to accept it.
A woman lecturer at a Delhi University college said: "They give us peanuts and then expect us to emulate Oxford and Cambridge."
A senior lecturer, on the verge of retirement, said that after 30 years of teaching he was taking home less than his 25-year-old software computer professional son.
Poor salaries and limited promotion prospects mean that the teaching profession has lost its social status and is no longer attracting the best minds.
Sashwati Maxumdar, secretary of Delhi University Teachers' Association, said: "Unless teachers are given the same salaries and service conditions as civil servants the universities cannot attract and retain talent."
Even those who do not endorse the lecturers' demand acknowledge that a university job is increasingly becoming almost the last option for the young and there has been a decline in quality this past decade. The multinationals with their huge salaries and generous perks are swallowing up the "cream" of graduates.
Lecturers have recently lost public support and come in for criticism for frequent strikes and not putting in a full day's work even in "normal" times.
The committee which reviewed their salaries in 1986 commented on lecturers' "poor performance" and sought to link promotion with "merit" but the idea was rejected by lecturers.
"We must ensure that nobody gets a full-time wage for part-time work," said Amrik Singh, a distinguished education expert.