Lecturers put science on agenda

September 11, 1998

Lecturers are calling for an "investors in scientific people" award as part of the government's "investors in people" scheme.

The Association of University Teachers will put a motion to next week's annual Trades Union Congress in Blackpool suggesting a special science section be included in the scheme to help promote technical skills and encourage more women into science and technology careers.

Universities are suffering a research funding shortfall of more than Pounds 500 million a year, the AUT estimates. The Department of Trade and Industry faces an annual Pounds 1.3 billion shortfall in science research investment.

The AUT wants the TUC general council, the government and the Confederation of British Industry to agree that by the end of this parliament the United Kingdom should reach the investment levels in research, including university research, of the top quarter of Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development nations.

AUT chief David Triesman said: "'Investors in people' registers an organisation's commitment to developing staff. What we are advocating is an enhancement of that concept that focuses on science and technical skills."

Lecturing unions will tell congress they welcome the proposed 500,000 more students in further and higher education by 2001 but only if they are properly funded. The AUT will state: "It is evident that funding on this basis does not at present exist and that a decade of annual cuts have done great damage to quality."

Lecturers' union Natfhe will call for proper resources to support lifelong learning, including allowing all workers the right to paid education leave.

It will warn trade unions that the proposed University for Industry will succeed only if it is supported by professionally trained educators in public-sector institutions. Natfhe will condemn increasing trends towards casualisation, including "the spurious use by employers of agencies in order to deny workers employee status and legal protection".

On pay, education unions are still split over whether to have a pay review body. The AUT insists that staff not covered by such a body are falling behind. Public-sector union Unison, which does not support a pay review body, will emphasise collective bargaining and a minimum wage.

It argues that the proposed minimum of Pounds 3.60 an hour, with lower youth rates, is not enough and will campaign for a minimum rate of Pounds 4.61 an hour for all.

Education secretary David Blunkett, who will address the conference on Tuesday, is expected to make an announcement on trade union education.

Simon Jenkins, page 19

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