If there is one man best placed to deal with the potentially explosive negotiations (news, page 4) over the implementation of new pay structures for universities being finalised this week, it is Roger Kline.
Mr Kline has been confirmed as Tom Wilson's replacement as head of the universities department at lecturers' union Natfhe. As health section boss at super-union Amicus (formerly MSF) for the past seven years, he is all too familiar with the performance-related pay issues that are only now reaching the top of the higher education agenda.
A graduate of Keele University, Mr Kline has a reputation for his no-nonsense, tough approach. He was a pioneer of equal pay for work of equal value in the National Health Service, taking a lead role in a successful legal challenge against Bristol NHS in 2000, which saw the executive promise a fundamental review of its pay systems. He was also behind a £12 million pay-out for female speech and language therapists in the NHS in the same year.
More controversially, Mr Kline was perceived as the key player behind the resignation of Bedford Hospital chief executive Ken Williams, who left in 2001 after pictures of dead bodies lying in his hospital chapel appeared in the press. Mr Kline, close to MSF-sponsored health secretary Alan Milburn, was accused by senior Tory Sir Nicholas Lyell, the former attorney-general, of leading a union plot to oust the boss at all costs, but an inquiry found no evidence of a conspiracy.
Mr Kline joined what was then the MSF union in 1990 after a stint as head of labour relations with the Health Visitors Association. He has also worked as a consultant for the public sector union Unison's healthcare sector, and has been principal negotiator for the British Airline Pilots'
Association, responsible for union recognition at EasyJet.
He started as head of department designate this week and will take over from Mr Wilson on July 23.