Staff fear pay cuts after jobs review

November 2, 2006

Union pans Abertay evaluation that has resulted in the downgrading of a fifth of academics, Tony Tysome reports.

More than a fifth of academic staff at Abertay Dundee University have been "downgraded" after a job evaluation exercise, it emerged this week.

The University and College Union has condemned what it describes as a "breach of the national framework agreement" at Abertay after the job evaluation exercise resulted in 22 per cent of academics and 44 per cent of black and minority ethnic staff, being "red circled", which means the university thinks they are currently "overgraded".

The UCU claimed that the high level of red circling was caused by Abertay making "substantial changes" to national academic role profiles.

The union accused the university of increasing substantially the requirements of academic roles compared with similar positions in other universities.

But Abertay said the details of its framework agreement were developed in partnership with trade unions and staff representative bodies, including the UCU.

It pointed out that 9 per cent of those staff who were red circled would not lose pay or be otherwise affected, because they were on old "FE64"

contracts, which are excluded from the framework agreement pay modernisation process.

A total of 50 out of 55 staff on the old contracts, first introduced in the 1960s at the former Scottish polytechnics, opted to take part in job evaluation, of whom 20 were judged to be in red-circled roles, the university said.

An Abertay spokesman said that if these academics were discounted, the proportion of staff that had been red circled was only 13 per cent. He added that four out of 11 black and minority ethnic staff had been red circled.

It is estimated that about 40 per cent of academics in post-92 universities in Scotland remain on FE64 contracts.

Many universities offered staff incentives to switch to new contracts, to bring them into the framework process. But many were reluctant to make the switch, because their old contracts entitle them to 61 days' annual leave.

Negotiations are under way at many universities for pay rises ranging from 2.4 per cent to 3.3 per cent for such staff to compensate them for being excluded from the framework process.

But Abertay said it was not considering increases outside of the framework.

David Bleiman, Scottish regional assistant general secretary of the UCU, said Abertay had "run into serious difficulties" with pay modernisation.

He said: "By choosing to job evaluate these staff, and having done so in a way that threatens many with downgrading, Abertay has created a massive disincentive and a road block in the way of pay modernisation."

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