Go-it-alone employers have lecturers' union baying for blood

June 23, 2000

The Association of University Teachers says it has lost faith in the Universities and Colleges Employers Association because it has unilaterally imposed this year's 3 per cent pay offer with no "discussion, consultation or notification to the AUT".

The AUT is furious that the UCEA has "advised" its university members to implement the pay offer behind the AUT's back. It says the UCEA has been high-handed and has breached the accepted rules of negotiation.

Malcolm Keight, assistant general secretary for employment, said the UCEA was losing its authority to act on behalf of employers, jeopardising the future of national bargaining and threatening delicate negotiations over Bett recommendations. "We will have to be extremely cautious about entering into negotiations with the UCEA in future," he said.

"This has reduced trust and confidence and puts the future of the UCEA as a credible representative body of universities in doubt. There is a real worry that if the UCEA is not replaced there will be a breakdown of the national negotiating structure."

AUT general secretary David Triesman has told branches that the UCEA does not have the "ability" to represent employers normally.

Employers and employees are in talks to replace the dozen national bargaining groups with two sub-councils to look at pay for academic and non-academic staff. UCEA chief executive Peter Humphries said the position was straightforward. "We had negotiations with the AUT, as we do each year, about the annual salary review.

"These negotiations concluded back in May when we made a full and final settlement. This was rejected by the AUT and that was the end of the negotiations. When you get to the end of negotiations, you get to the end of negotiations.

"The position was confirmed by our board and we have written to institutions recommending that they now consider implementing the pay award."

He said that future cooperation was "a matter for the AUT. It is always our desire to maintain good relations, but on this occasion it was not possible to reach agreement". Mr Humphries said he would be writing to the AUT.

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