Many higher education institutions want a major reduction in the number of pay bargaining groups down to either a single salary structure or at most two, according to a preliminary analysis carried out by the employers association.
A majority of institutions want local rather than national determination of conditions of services such as the working week and holiday entitlement, according to responses to the Universities and Colleges Employers Association consultation on future pay bargaining structures. Stephen Rouse, chief executive of UCEA said: "Two thirds of institutions have replied so far and of these, on a ratio of two to one, they wanted a substantial reduction in the number of bargaining units. This means the majority favoured either options two or three," he said.
The consultation paper proposed four options, of which the first would have kept the status quo, while option four asked institutions if they wished to create new groups. Options two and three were for simplified structures.
"I think the institutions were influenced by the need to ensure that work of equal value is paid equally and it is hard to ensure this if you have lots of different negotiating bodies at national level. I am sure that the trade unions will want to talk to us about this evolving view of institutions" Mr Rouse said.
But Peter Breeze, president of the Association of University Teachers, challenged the assessment of the results. The union had seen the responses from over 20 out of the 65 subscribers in the old universities.
"They nearly all support option one at least in the short term, so the claimed majority for options two or three is very surprising and hard to believe. There is an enormous difference between institutions saying 'we may have problems with equal value cases' and the UCEA interpreting that as a vote for option two," Mr Breeze said.