NOTTINGHAM University is to introduce a profit-related pay scheme, even though staff were not allowed to have copies of the rules governing the scheme.
The PRP scheme will be introduced with almost immediate effect after more than 80 per cent of all university staff signed up by last Thursday's deadline. An institution can only introduce a scheme if more than four-fifths of staff members join up.
The Association of University Teachers opposed the introduction of the scheme on ethical grounds, believing PRP to be divisive and potentially damaging to university funding in the long run. The union was also angered by the university's handling of the promotional campaign for the scheme.
Union representatives said they were shocked to discover that staff would not be allowed their own copies of the rules governing the scheme and that these were available for inspection only by visiting the university finance office. The rules included the formulae for calculating staff remuneration.
Sandi Golbey, a national executive member and branch president at Nottingham, said: "You would never normally sign up to join anything without having first read the small print on your own copy of the rules. It generated a great deal of mistrust and meant that staff members could not seek independent advice based on the details of the scheme contained in the rules.
"While I would be surprised if 80 per cent of AUT members joined, it would not surprise me that large majorities of low paid manual and ancillary workers took the offer simply because they need the money."
The university did give each staff member an explanatory booklet describing the basic workings of the scheme. Union representatives also received copies of the complete rules for their own information though they were not allowed to disseminate them to members. An AUT spokeswoman said that each of the pages of the rule book was stamped with copyright warnings.
A spokesman for the university said that a majority of staff, more than 80 per cent, had been happy to enter the scheme before the deadline day.