Unions press for 10 per cent-plus pay rise

January 22, 1999

Two higher education unions this week called for pay rises of more than 10 per cent.

University and college lecturers' union Natfhe will recommend a headline 15 per cent rise. At least 10 per cent of this is to go on salaries - more if the Bett inquiry produces evidence of a wider pay gap. It wants a further 3 or 4 per cent to cover the cost of moving part-time staff from hourly to pro rata contracts.

The claim will be drafted after Natfhe's higher education committee meeting on February 13 and put to conference on May 29.

Services union Unison is demanding 10 per cent or Pounds 33 a week, whichever is greater, for its 60,000 members in higher education involved in manual, clerical, technical, professional and administrative work. This is linked to its campaign for a national minimum hourly wage of Pounds 4.79, which Natfhe supports.

Unison's claim, which will have to be agreed with other unions in its bargaining group before being submitted to the Universities and Colleges Employers Association in coming weeks, also calls for:

* A common April 1 settlement date

* Harmonised pay and conditions for all groups of staff

* Single-status, single-table bargaining and a common pay spine for all higher education staff

* Improvements in annual and special leave

* A maximum 35-hour week.

Natfhe wants to close the pay gap with comparable professions and end casualisation. At least half of staff on fixed-term contracts should be offered permanent contracts in the first year, with more later. It also wants:

* A minimum starting salary of Pounds 16,000

* More promotions to principal lecturer grade - the equivalent to senior lecturer grade at old universities. Only 25 per cent of staff in new universities are on this grade. The union wants 40 per cent.

Tom Wilson, Natfhe's head of higher education, said Natfhe's settlement date is not until September 1, but the union thought it would be helpful to put in the pay claim early so that recommendations by the Bett inquiry could be implemented immediately.

The Association of University Teachers has also asked for a rise of at least 10 per cent to help close a 36 per cent pay shortfall compared with similar professions.

At its council meeting yesterday, it discussed the possibility of industrial action, including one-day strikes and boycotts of examinations and admissions if the 1999 pay claim were delayed because of Bett's inquiry.

Bett analysis, pages 8-9

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