Academics at Nottingham University are threatening industrial action over the introduction of a job evaluation scheme imported from the private sector that has left at least one member of staff facing a pay cut of around Pounds 9,000.
The Association of University Teachers says it will ballot for strikes in February and March and an examinations and research boycott unless Nottingham withdraws the scheme.
The AUT says the scheme falls outside the terms of the national framework for pay and conditions being negotiated by unions and employers.
But the university says the system, which uses the private sector Hay methodology to match jobs to different pay scales, has already been accepted by clerical, administrative and support staff and that it works within the terms of the national framework.
Nottingham has further infuriated AUT leaders by going ahead with awarding the Universities and Colleges Employers Association's offer of a 3.44 per cent pay rise, which is disputed by the union. A university spokesman said:
"We value our staff and we do not see why they should be kept waiting to get their pay increase. The next stage is to extend it to academic staff, and we have invited the AUT to talk to us about the process and the timescale," Nottingham has introduced a new "personal supermaximum" rate of pay - a kind of performance-related increment - for each grade, awarded so far to about 15 per cent of staff. It is up to departmental heads to decide who gets the supermaximum.
One academic-related member of staff, who did not wish to be named, is appealing against being moved from her current pay scale, with a maximum of £29,500, to a new one with a £20,000 maximum. Even if she were on the supermaximum, she could still reach only £24,000.
She said: "It's really galling because it seems it's not so much about your job but who you know and who you suck up to."
Macdonald Daly, president of Nottingham AUT, said: "If Nottingham decides to impose its own procedure, then it is breaking away from what everyone else is doing and going its own way. We will refuse to cooperate under those circumstances."