* Technical staff in the old universities have asked for a 10 per cent pay rise and new joint pay structure with academic and academic-related staff.
Presenting the claim, which will also apply to computer staff, Paul Talbot, national secretary of the Manufacturing Science and Finance union, said their job had changed greatly in recent years.
Technical staff were now involved in forward planning, teaching students, course design, administration and management.
"A single pay arrangement embracing academic, academic-related and technical staff would create a structure capable of embracing the changing professional role of technicians as well as providing a path for development and career progression," he said.
One estimate by the Universities and Colleges Staff Development Agency suggested that as student numbers had risen technical staff numbers had decreased across the board by between ten and 50 per cent.
A report by the Royal Society, chaired by Sir John Horlock, criticised falling numbers of technicians and recommended a "more integrated approach to career prospects and training of all technical and research support staff".