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Belfast AUT

Produced by Belfast Association of University Teachers Issue No 5 May 1999


reddot.gif (924 bytes)Strike on Tuesday 25th May

reddot.gif (924 bytes)Women and the Millenium Project

reddot.gif (924 bytes)Other actions

Bett Report

reddot.gif (924 bytes)Proper Pay not a Loan

National campaign - e-mail your employer and let him know what you think!



Strike on Tuesday 25th May

Last month the AUT balloted some of our members over the failure of the employers to make a realistic pay offer by our settlement date of 1st April. Our colleagues in the "new" universities, who have a later settlement date, were not be involved. Nor were retired members who are not working. Also excluded were our nursing and medical colleagues in QUB who will receive the Health Service pay rises which are considerable higher than the 3.5% offered to the bulk of the academic and related staff. AUT had claimed 10% as a first step in correcting the pay erosion which AUT and the employers both agree is about 30% relative to comparable professions. The employers also did not address other important issues such as rampant casualisation and the gender gap in pay.

17,082 of our relevant members returned the ballot form, which represents a 52% turnout. The result was:

Question 1

Question 2


Strike Action

Action Short of a Strike











9,858 58%

11,601 68%




AUT Council has therefore called a national one day strike on 25th May (not 24th as reported by Times Higher). This will be followed by a rolling program of disruptive action over the summer. If there has been no resolution by the autumn we will conduct fresh ballots which would then include our colleagues in the new universities where the settlement date is 1st September. The other trade unions (Unison and MSF) which were made the same offer at the same time have rejected it. They have not balloted their members on action yet, but they may well be involved in action later. NATFHE have said that if a 3.5% offer is made to academic staff in the new universities, they will reject it and immediately ballot on industrial action.

We call on all of our members who were balloted to refrain from all university work for 24 hours on 25th May and to volunteer for picket duty. Members who were not balloted should work as usual, but we would ask them to attend the lunch-time rally which we will organise. The purpose of the picket lines is not to dissuade students or members of other unions from attending Queen's, but to publicise our cause. If asked directly if you were on strike you should proudly say "Yes" and expect to lose a day's pay; however you should not give information on the attendance of others.

AUT has a letter of support from the President of the National Union of Students, and we will immediately consult with the QUB Students' Union. However, the impact on the students should be small as at Queen's the strike date falls in the revision week between the end of lectures and the start of examinations. Although students will be denied the services of lecturers, professional librarians and computer staff, etc. the libraries and open access computing areas should provide a limited service through other staff.

You will be given further information through departmental representatives and notices. You should also check our web-site http://quis.qub.ac.uk/aut which is also accessible from the QUB home page via Affiliations and then Associations. The national AUT web-site address is http://www.aut.org.uk



Other Actions

The rolling program of disruptive (in)action during the summer is meant to be an irritant to the employers. For legal reasons it applies only to members who were balloted. It is action short of a strike and so that when members do not undertake the work specified they should do other duties instead.

From 1 June members will cease involvement in appraisal, work associated with teaching quality exercises including those organised by QAA and Ofsted, and administrative work associated with the Research Assessment Exercise.

On four dates in June selected by the Local Association, members should take no part whatsoever in the examination system - whatever stage or part of the process has been reached. This covers the full range of stages in examinations and assessed course-work including informal and formal meetings of examination boards. It is intended to delay and disrupt, but exam results should appear eventually. We will announce the dates later after consultation.

From 14 June, members will be asked to cease to fill in any forms related to quality issues and any other forms designated by the Local Association which will impede the bureaucratic processes. Please tell us about your least favourite forms!

We will organise publicity events on Graduation days.

On four dates in August (at roughly weekly intervals) selected by the Local Association, members should take no part in the admission of students for the 1999-2000 session. Again we will announce the dates later. The intention is to disrupt admissions, but not to prevent them.

On designated dates announced at short-notice by HQ members will be asked to unplug phones and not to deal with any e-mails connected with the administration of their universities.


Proper Pay, Not a Loan

The settlement date for salary negotiations is 1st April and so you were entitled to expect the fruits of those negotiations on your pay slip at the end of April. Of course, you did not get a pay rise because the employers are refusing to address properly the chronic erosion of academic and related salaries and the other pay issues such as casualisation and the gender gap. What you did get was a new advertisement on the pay packet offering you an unsecured (but not interest free) loan. This obviously recognises the dire financial straits that many staff are in, but offers a tide-over rather than the necessary permanent solution. Not very tactful timing, Bursar.

Paul Hudson


Women and the Millennium Project

On 23rd April , representing the AUT Women's Committee, I attended a seminar for the 'Women and the Millennium Project' launched to draw up a new agenda for women entering the 21st century and to report back to the Women's National Commission, the official advisory body to the Government. The AUT representative was one of around thirty members present, representing the major women's organisations in Northern Ireland.

Workshops on childcare, family and caring, education and training, media, violence against women, poverty, pay and non-traditional work, examined current issues and drew up proposals for action. Barbara Erwin, Chair of the Women's Forum Northern Ireland, tabled a discussion paper 'Women in the North' which proposes a special women's forum to provide a direct channel to government (the Assembly) for women in Northern Ireland. Responses to this paper and indications of interest in membership of the forum should be submitted by 31 May 1999. Copies of the discussion paper can be obtained from me.

Jill Stewart-Moore (ext 3054)


The Bett Report

The publication of the Bett report has been postponed yet again. On 27th May the committee will have its final meeting (the fourth such). This is because the CVCP are unhappy with the report and would disown it in its present form. Reportedly this is because it would raise the salary expectations of staff without the prospect of government funding. Note that what they are not doing is joining AUT in campaigning for the proper funding of salaries now. Any salary improvement flowing from Bett will be for 2002, if ever. But that will not stop the employers trying to push ahead with the many aspects of Bett that will be to the detriment of academic and related staff.

When it is finally publish it will not be available on the web but will be sold at 45 per copy. Belfast AUT should have it both in printed and CD form and any member wishing to study it should contact me. AUT will hold a special Council on Bett and so we would appreciate hearing your views.

Paul Hudson