Plan to scrap national pay deals

March 10, 1995

University unions have reacted angrily to proposals to scrap annual pay increments and establish a single pay structure for all staff, from porters to professors.

The suggestions form part of consultations by the Universities and Colleges Employers Association on its role and the future pay structure for higher education.

Heads of universities and colleges are being asked whether they want a reduction in issues negotiated nationally with trade unions, including derecognition in some areas, even if this provokes industrial action.

UCEA chief executive Stephen Rouse proposes local determination of salary scales and staff progression, with only the pay spine negotiated nationally.

"The institution would be free to decide how, if at all, an individual progressed through any scale," said Mr Rouse.

"Conditions of service for some staff groups are negotiated at a national level. This practice would cease," he said in his proposals. "The unions would be offered, in effect, a choice of limited recognition or no recognition at national level. Institutions would need to advise UCEA whether they would be prepared to proceed despite the possibility of industrial action."

He said the UCEA's first round of consultations last year showed continued backing for national collective bargaining but strong support for reducing its scope.

The Association of University Teachers said the UCEA seemed intent on destroying "all that works best in a university department". David Triesman, general secretary, said: "It is barely credible that this recipe for chaos, bitterness and waste could be circulated as a serious proposition."

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