Leaders of lecturers at new universities rejected a "derisory" pay offer of 3 per cent this week, despite being offered a better package than their old-university counterparts.
A meeting between lecturers' union Natfhe and the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association was adjourned without agreement this week, when the employers stuck to an offer that fell far short of the 10 per cent pay increase that Natfhe had demanded as the first step to a 30 per cent rise.
An offer to raise the minimum salary to Pounds 17,912 by removing the bottom three salary points on the lecturer scale was not enough. Old-university lecturers were offered the removal of just one point.
Natfhe drew heavily on the stark figures of the Bett report on pay and conditions to make its claim. Since 1981, pay for lecturers had increased by 30 per cent less than the average for non-manual employees, it said. Natfhe argued that pay was worse in new universities, with lecturers stuck at lower points in the scales. In old universities, 51 per cent of full-time academics are in the senior lecturer or professorial grades, compared with just per cent in new universities.
But Natfhe was also angry that its attempts to herald "a new kind of approach", with a view to the planned new negotiating machinery, were dashed. The employers rejected its demands to set up talks to renegotiate and update the national contract on conditions.
Natfhe wanted to begin to integrate new part-time workers' regulations and other legal changes into the national contract, but the employers wanted to do nothing until the new national negotiating mechanisms had been set up.
Tom Wilson, head of universities at Natfhe, said that the offer was "deeply disappointing". "We hope very much that the employers will reconsider their position and come back to the negotiating table."
UCEA chairman Peter Humphries blamed "chronic underfunding" by the government and said that 3 per cent was "the maximum" universities and colleges could afford. Meanwhile, employers also rejected calls by both Natfhe and the Association of University Teachers for a better pay deal for London academics. Natfhe had demanded an increase on the current Pounds 2,191 for London weighting.