Universities delaying the implementation of the new pay framework could increasingly lose out in the market for new staff, union leaders have warned.
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the Association of University Teachers, said: "The new university labour market will lead to a severe competitive disadvantage for institutions that do not quickly implement comparable salary structures."
Andy Pike, national official for higher education at Natfhe, said calls for pay rises from August this year could exacerbate pay differences: "This pay rise will be mapped onto university pay spines. Those at universities that are ahead in terms of negotiating good agreements will see their salaries go up further, and others will be left behind. We could see a clear split emerging between universities ahead of the game and those behind."
The Open University, Leeds and Manchester universities and the School of Pharmacy, University of London, have already finalised pay agreements - which are seen by the unions as flagship deals. The Open University, Manchester and the School of Pharmacy have set a minimum rate for lecturers of £,194, and Leeds a rate of £26,401.This is significantly higher than the current rate of £23,643 and the £24,886 set out in the framework.
The most comprehensive deal is at Leeds, which created a new pay band for professors and senior management by extending the pay spine to 60 points.
Negotiations at other universities are being stymied by union concerns that the proposed deals would introduce performance-related pay, and disadvantage new staff.
Flashpoints include Dundee, Newcastle, Sheffield and Cardiff universities.
The AUT is concerned at the slow implementation of the framework in Wales as a whole.
Mr Pike said that no new university had signed off on the framework, although discussions were at an advanced stage at a few, such as Gloucester. Natfhe is concerned that Bournemouth is planning to bring in a pay framework that breaches the national agreement, while discussions at London Metropolitan have been delayed because of a long-running dispute over contracts.
Paul Brown, Dundee AUT Secretary: “Dundee’s initial proposals were totally unacceptable to the AUT.” University spokeperson: “We are confident that we will still be on schedule to meet the implementation date of August 2006.”
Proposals would lead to the introduction of performance related pay and new staff would be employed on less favourable terms than current staff, according to the AUT. Veryan Johnston, Newcastle’s director of human resources: “The university is seeking to recruit and retain high-calibre staff.”
The university has put forward proposals that the AUT claims would create a two-tier system. Rosie Valerio, Sheffield’s director of human resources: “As would be expected when introducing new pay structures, there are a number of issues to be resolved between the university and the unions.”
Raised starting salaries to £,194 and could raise some senior lecturers’ salaries to £50,000.
Raised starting salaries - or minimum rate for lecturers - by 15 per cent to £,194 and backdated deal to August 1, 2004.
Created a new pay band for professors and senior management by extending pay spine to 60 points. Most comprehensive deal to date.