Union leaders have called off an academic boycott and threatened industrial action at Derby University after managers agreed to increase pay to nationally agreed rates, writes Tony Tysome.
The decision will be seen as both a significant victory and a relief by Natfhe, the university and college lecturers' union, which has been involved in chess-like tactics to win the pay rise since August 1998.
After a crunch meeting with union leaders last Friday, the university has agreed to pay full and part-time lecturers at rates negotiated nationally between the lecturers' common interest group and the Universities and Colleges Employers Association from September this year.
A joint statement issued by the university and Natfhe this week said: "The university for the year 2000-01 intends to pay the national pay rates and in subsequent years the normal expectation is that it would continue to pay national rates. If the university is financially unable to do so, Natfhe will be consulted at the earliest opportunity."
It goes on to say that the university recognises that expenditure on staffing "is a major priority" and "accepts the same obligations as other UCEA subscribers to respect nationally negotiated pay rates, noting that the final decision for all UCEA subscribers rests with the institutional governing body".
The agreement follows repeated promises from Roger Waterhouse, Derby's vice-chancellor, to make up a 0.6 per cent gap between pay scales at the university and national rates.
Union leaders, who have been frustrated by the frequent postponement of meetings with management to discuss the issue, have gradually escalated action from letter writing, to an academic boycott, to threatened strikes and a vote of no confidence.
The statement says both sides now recognise "the need for a fresh start in industrial relations" and "the need to work by consensus and to respect and tolerate differing professional views".
However, the university reserved the right to pay less under some circumstances, as long as union leaders were fully informed.
The statement added: "If senior management believe that there is any likelihood of the university not being able to pay national rates, the issue will be fully discussed with Natfhe.
"Both sides would endeavour to reach agreement on any necessary deviation from national scales, which should be for as short a time as possible."