The executive of the Association of University Teachers was accused this week of failing to use its democratic machinery in deciding to suspend strike action over pay five months after it began.
George Reeves, of Newcastle University AUT, said there would be blood spilt at the union's special council meeting on December 15. "People are very angry," he said. "The action had the support of members who now want to know what has happened."
Andrew Taylor, president of Liverpool University AUT agreed: "We are not sure what is going on as the industrial action had achieved its objective of getting employers back to the table.
"The decision to terminate industrial action was clearly a difficult one and, as such, the executive should have referred it to council. This emotional and sensitive proposal should have been open to debate. Many members are now asking what our pay strategy is now. It will hardly be credible to submit another big claim next time around."
A national AUT spokeswoman said that having invested so much time and energy in dispute, it was inevitable that those who took the brunt of the action were disappointed. "However, we know our members are fully realistic and we need now to focus on where we go from here," she said.
"Representatives will have their full say in what they do and we do next at our special council."