Reduced to one or two

March 21, 1997

Reading your editorial opinions is always a joy but it is not often that I do so wreathed in smiles. "Pay system should build on UCEA" (THES, March 14) was one of those times. You must share my distaste for shooting messengers. Still, I hope you will allow me one quibble.

I do not know of any surveys by the Universities and Colleges Employers Association which "show that abandoning national bargaining finds most favour among vice chancellors of new universities". We found that the great majority of v-cs and college principals wanted national negotiations to continue but the number of bargaining units reduced to either one or two. You make the point that "universities offering different pay to people doing work of similar value leave themselves open to legal actions". This is why UCEA has so vigorously encouraged the work of the Competencies Consortium which is developing a role analysis tool for comparing the work of staff from porter to professor. Once this is done UCEA will return to reforming the "proliferation of negotiating units". We do not need to conduct the same pay negotiations nine times a year.

Stephen Rouse

Chief executive, Universities and College Employers Association

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