THE spectre of industrial action returned to haunt universities this week as employers hinted that they may not support a pay review body for academic staff.
The Association of University Teachers, which has voted to settle the higher education pay dispute, has stated that it will reopen it unless employers commit to an independent pay review body.
Agreement on the principle was given in the AUT's pay bargaining group, on January 30. Having secured this, the AUT balloted its members and the results revealed that more than 90 per cent favour acceptance of the two-year, 5.8 per cent pay deal which includes the PRB committment.
But it has now been made clear that the bargaining group agreement does not apply to other unions which have their own groups. It is up to the board of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association to decide its stance on PRB and early signs show that its support is far from guaranteed.
UCEA chief executive Steve Rouse said: "The UCEA board does not have a position on a PRB. The bargaining group decided, in the interests of the students, to make a broad agreement on the principle of a PRB. It does not follow that there is a profound belief in the importance of a PRB."
The AUT and the Association of University Teachers and Lecturers support a PRB. Natfhe does not.