The Trades Union Congress is expected to back lecturers in their attempts to stop the introduction of performance-related pay by institutions such as Nottingham University.
The Association of University Teachers was seeking to amend a motion condemning PRP in the public sector submitted to this week's TUC congress in Brighton.
The amendment warns of the specific threat PRP poses to academia. It says:
"Higher education operates through teamwork and collaboration across all staff grades. PRP would fundamentally undermine this, replacing cooperation with competition between colleagues."
The motion and amendment were due to be heard as The Times Higher went to press.
The AUT and Nottingham have stepped up their campaigns on PRP by taking out adverts defending their respective positions in this week's Times Higher .
The union has pledged to greylist the university from next week unless Nottingham backs down on proposals for a controversial new pay structure.
If the university stands its ground, it will become the first institution in five years to suffer greylisting - the withdrawal of collaboration by academics at other universities.
The AUT sees Nottingham as a dangerous "outlier" in its local implementation of an overarching national deal on pay and conditions hammered out this year.
This week, Charles Clarke, the Education Secretary, addressing congress, praised the work of union learning reps in bringing unskilled workers back to education. He also praised plans for a Union Academy.
Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, said: "By building on the grassroots work of union learning representatives, the Union Academy will deliver the training employers and workers need."
Paul Mackney, general secretary of lecturers' union Natfhe, who is on the steering group of the academy, said: "Universities and colleges will be expected to go to the workplace to deliver these courses. The aim is to overcome learning hurdles."