A senior management negotiator for Scotland's new universities has defended proposals to cut academics' holidays by 20 days in their draft staff contracts.
The "Partnership 2000" proposals have drawn the ire of the Joint Union Committee, which accused the Conference of Scottish Centrally Funded Colleges of abandoning national negotiations.
But Geoff King, vice-principal at Queen Margaret University College and human resources coordinator of the colleges, said: "The JUC has known that this is what we wished to bring about for a long time. We have done our best to get the JUC on board to contribute to it. It got to the point where we felt we have to move ahead with this in the interests of institutions and our own staff."
Dr King said the proposals would be discussed with the JUC at the next meeting chaired by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.
The new contracts, which call for individual work plans and pay scales to bring salaries more in line with older universities, are planned to come into force from January for any promotions or appointments. Staff will have the right to sign or not.
He said the proposals were being sent to governing bodies. Meetings would then be held with local staff representatives to explain the position.
But Ian McPherson, chair of the JUC, said: "We are appalled. It looks as if they are walking away from any national agreement they've got." He predicted industrial action. The JUC is recommending rejection of a 3.5 per cent pay offer.
The University Lecturers Association of the Educational Institute of Scotland has told its members not to enter any local negotiations on the proposals, saying conditions of service must be determined nationally.