The two biggest lecturers' unions were on a collision course with their employers this week following the rejection of a "lamentable" pay offer and "sweatshop" industrial relations strategy.
The Association of University Teachers says it will reject outright the 1.5 per cent pay rise which the Universities and Colleges Employers Association will place on the bargaining table at next week's negotiating meeting. The Manufacturing, Science and Finance union rejected the offer on Tuesday.
UCEA chief executive Steve Rouse said that, while he agrees lecturers should receive more, there is no money. A 1.5 per cent rise would mean an extra Pounds 434 a year or around Pounds 8 a week before tax for the average lecturer in an old university. Inflation is expected to be 2.5 per cent.
AUT general secretary David Triesman said: "If this lamentable offer made to the technicians were to be repeated, the employers could expect only the same unequivocal rejection."
Meanwhile, lecturers' union Natfhe has urged branches to strike over college employers' refusal to raise pay for half of its members. The forum told Natfhe, in national negotiations on Monday, that it would not reconsider a 2.1 per cent pay offer for those on new contracts unless the unions, including the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, recognised that there would be no increase for the rest, mainly those on the so-called Silver Book conditions of service.
Natfhe chief negotiator Sue Berryman accused the Colleges Employers Forum of pursuing an industrial relations strategy "more suited to sweatshop owners" and has called on branches to commit themselves to a programme of strikes starting on October 8.