The University and College Union is preparing for industrial action after the latest round of national talks on pay and job security. The five higher education unions met with the Universities and Colleges Employers Association last week for the fifth round of the 2010-11 negotiations.
Ucea stuck to its offer of a 0.4 per cent pay rise, which is far short of the unions' joint claim of 4 per cent. However, Ucea said this offer would now be "subject to review in late October should there be no settlement".
On job security, Ucea said that it had mounted further consultations with its member organisations in response to union concerns.
But these confirmed the view that Ucea "has no mandate from its member institutions to engage in negotiations on national job security provisions" and that "handling workforce change is a matter for individual institutions".
Michael MacNeil, the UCU's head of higher education, said the unions were not "trying to negotiate institutional staffing levels at the national level", but rather seeking "proposals that recognise the level of jobs at risk in the sector and ... means by which we can improve job security".
He added: "In the absence of an agreement, our branches have asked us to ballot for industrial action. Our national committee will meet at the beginning of September to make final preparations."
Mike Robinson, national education officer for Unite, said Ucea was "getting confused between job security and redundancy", adding that the unions had never asked for a national commitment ruling out redundancies. He said that provisions in a national job security agreement could include considering job shares or part-time working rather than redundancies.
Save the UCU, the other unions will consult with their executive bodies and members on Ucea's offer.