The last vestige of the binary divide between old and new universities has been smashed, trade union leaders said this week as they agreed plans to unite academics around a single pay negotiating table.
All eight higher education trade unions have agreed with employers a reform of the pay-negotiating machinery that will replace the disparate bargaining systems and pay anniversaries with a national Joint Negotiating Committee.
By August 2002, all staff will be paid on the basis of a single "pay spine", designed to ensure equal pay for work of equal value.
Tom Wilson, head of the universities department at lecturers' union Natfhe, said: "It is no exaggeration to say that this is a revolutionary change. Staff in new universities will be seen as being the same as those in old, with the same status. It sweeps away the concept that academics in new universities do a different kind of job to those in the old."
Chris Kaufman, national secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union, said: "The new arrangements will sweep away barriers between manual and non-manual staff, and end other forms of discrimination. Whether you hold a broom or a seminar, you will be entitled to equal treatment."
Unison was unhappy about plans to split the Joint Negotiating Committee into two sub-committees, one for academic staff, the other for non-academic staff. However, this week, members voted 79 per cent in favour of the package, which will give the lowest paid staff a rise of up to 6.7 per cent.
Natfhe members get a rise of 4.3 per cent, and Association of University Teachers members 5.1 per cent, with the awards staggered over different timescales. The common pay anniversary will be August 1.