V-cs miss pay point

April 4, 1997

IN YOUR coverage of the salaries, National Insurance and pension contributions of general secretaries - figures which are quite properly made public each year - I had sought to make a point which I thought important but which was not covered in the report.

In my view, it is essential that any pay increases received by union officials, including general secretaries, should be strictly pegged to those received by members of the union. Anything else breaks faith. We should do as well or as badly as each other, not because that adds an incentive to trade union work - an occupation principally driven by conviction - but because it demonstrates the common position and purpose we have in higher education.

I share John Akker's view that it is inappropriate for general secretaries to be paid like vice chancellors. But in one respect, there is a good case for vice chancellors to be paid like general secretaries.

During the past two years I have urged vice chancellors and principals to restrict their own pay increases to the levels they say are the limits at which they can settle with their staff. In those two years, vice chancellors' average pay has increased by about 7 per cent per year, several times more generous than staff settlements.

That is not testimony to common position and purpose in higher education, to doing as well or as badly as one another. Yet had this simple step been taken, bad as pay awards have been, there might have been rather better morale in general.

David Triesman, General secretary, Association of University Teachers

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