Rival pay wish lists vie for Bett's attention

July 3, 1998

Submissions to the Independent Review Committee on pay and conditions for higher education staff, recommended by Dearing and chaired by Sir Michael Bett, were due in this week. The committee will take oral evidence from unions later this month and report by early next year. The following are some of the most significant submissions from the more than 100 it received

Lecturers' union Natfhe

The problem A 12.4 per cent decline inacademic pay compared with average earnings since 1992 anda 72 per cent drop since 1974.

Dearing's failure to tackle pay issues head-on has led to high expectations from the Bett committee.

Recommendations

* Increase levels of highereducation pay to bring them into line with comparable professions

* Harmonise national paystructure and settlement date for staff in old and new universities

* Keep national collective pay bargaining

* Introduce shorter, flexible and clear salary scales

* Introduce national conditionsof service with scope for local negotiation

* Introduce pro-rata contracts for part-time staff

* Review workloads

* End waiver clauses

* Review HESA's data collection service

Association of University Teachers

The problem

Pay arrangements are "a disaster for which vice-chancellors and governments are jointly responsible".

Recommendations

* Set up a statutory pay review for academic and related staff

* Restore professionally competitive pay levels

* Introduce a single main professional grade for all academic and equivalent professional staff in old and new universities, with local flexiblity

* Introduce a common April 1 settlement date

* Negotiate a national framework on workloads and other conditions with local flexibility

* Introduce pro-rata contracts for part-time staff

* Set up national guidelines on equal opportunities in appointments and promotions

Unison

The problem

Unison says any future paydetermination system should cover all staff, ensure decent pay and opportunities for careerprogression and should be locally flexible.

Recommendations

* Introduce a single nationally agreed pay spine for all employees

* Harmonise terms and conditions, with pro-rata terms for those on non-standard contracts

* Introduce collective bargaining rather than a pay review body

* Set up local bargaining over specific local conditions

Universities & Colleges Employers Association

The Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals backs UCEA's submission.

The problem

There is no realistic chance that the government will fund the outcomes of a statutory pay review body. So arguing about whether to have one wastes time. It claims the government refused to nominate a chair for the IRC "because of their concern about the possible future funding implications of doing so".

However, existing arrangements on pay and conditionsare overcomplex and rooted inthe past. It believes autonomy, financial health and flexibility for each institution are crucial.

Recommendations

* Set up a single national pay spine and annual pay review date covering all groups of staff

* Allocate staff within eachinstitution to pay grades along this spine, with progressionbased on length of service orperformance

* Award supplements to tackle recruitment or skill shortages

* Introduce the ability to reward performance

* Keep collective bargaining at its present level

* Make each institutionresponsible for determining terms and conditions of employment with perhaps national minimaon key issues.

University of Oxford

The problem

It claims it is suffering "grave problems" in recruiting andkeeping high quality staff because of falling pay levels in highereducation compared with other sectors.

Worst hit are managementstudies, economics, law, computing and many sciences, as well as secretarial and clerical posts.

Recommendations

* Introduce a nationalframework on pay - but only ifinstitutions are able to vary arrangements

* Rank all jobs using a single, gender-neutral job classification system, but only if other factors, such as an institution's financial resources, employment market pressures and performance are taken into account locally.

University of North London

The problem

It wants nothing to do withSir Michael Bett's committee, which it claims was started because of a procedural error by the Dearing committee. It says there is no benefit in a mechanism which does not enjoy the whole-hearted support of the government, offers no additional funding and cuts across institutional autonomy.

Recommendations

* Pay and conditions of service should be resolved at a local level.

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