Schooled in cynicism

March 12, 1999

The Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals' response to evidence of widespread, institutional sex discrimination, resulting in systematic underpayment of women, surprises even this jaded observer ("Call to get tough on sex bias", THES, March 5).

The Association of University Teachers's recent rejection of the Higher Education Role Analysis, a scheme explicitly designed to assist employers defend their position on pay discrimination in tribunals, can hardly be the reason for decades of mistreatment. Nor will Hera make things better. It will help employers restrict annual pay settlements to the lowest common denominator across all institutions and all grades of staff.

I know some colleagues will find this view cynical, but recent years of bargaining have been a fine school in cynicism. Every proposal to introduce transparency and monitoring has been rejected outright. Any number of excellent conferences and publications is no substitute for putting things right.

David Triesman General secretary, AUT

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