Union claims victory in pay row

June 4, 2004

The Association of University Teachers is claiming a victory in its battle with Nottingham University over the institution's plans to introduce local pay bargaining for staff.

The union said it would temporarily abandon a plan to boycott, or "greylist", the university after the university promised it would honour national principles on pay that had been agreed by AUT and national employers' negotiators in March.

The principles are that staff will continue to receive annual increments until they reach the point on their pay grade where discretionary increases are made; staff will take no longer to reach the discretionary increase point than they do now; and the point will be no lower than it is now.

The AUT's executive committee will reconsider its threatened boycott of Nottingham at a meeting on July 9. Mark Oley, AUT regional officer, said:

"The threat of censure of the University of Nottingham may have been staved off, but greylisting will be imposed if the institution does not honour its promise to abide by the nationally agreed principles."

A university spokesman said that Nottingham was negotiating with the AUT on developments in pay, grading and reward and that guiding principles agreed earlier this year will determine the talks.

The spokesman said: "The university is pleased that the AUT has come back to the table, having refused to negotiate with us last autumn, and that the union accepts that any censure is not justified."

It remained unclear, however, how adherence to the national principles would affect the university's local pay plans.

The university announced late last year that it was introducing a localised salary structure and a performance management system. Neither proposal had been negotiated with local or national AUT representatives.

A strike was held at Nottingham on March 9 over the institution's decision to change employment contracts. The union claimed that the pay structure would seriously disadvantage some members of staff.

Some academic-related staff, such as senior librarians, have already accepted changes to their conditions of service under pressure from Nottingham, an AUT spokesman said.

"Greylisting" can amount to a global academic boycott. Information about the institution would be circulated to academic associations worldwide and those considering academic jobs, attending conferences or embarking on research collaboration with the university would be asked to first seek advice from the AUT.

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