Belfast AUT Newsletter Issue no. 8- July 2002
contents of LA 7226  printable formats


Dear Colleagues

At the end of long and difficult negotiations on 15 July, higher education employers, represented by the University and Colleges Employers Association, presented a "full and final offer" for salary increases for the commencing 1 August 2002.

Sally Hunt
General Secretary

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The cost of the offer overall is regarded as 3.5% on the total pay bill. The effect for individual members is dependent upon the salary point on which they are currently paid. The reason for this is that the new rates will form part of an interim pay spine, which is being introduced as part of the negotiations on pay and employment reform which followed the agreement of 25 June 2001. If the offer is accepted it will mean a salary increase of between 3.2% and 4.2% for most academic and academic related staff. In addition two points have been deleted from the bottom of the lecturer scale in post 1992 institution and one point of the lecturer scale in pre-1992 institutions. This means that the starting salary in both cases have been increased to £22,191. The AUT together with NATFHE and EIS had sought a substantial increase in the starting salaries for all staff and a harmonisation of salary scales across the whole of higher education. Although this is not reflected in full in this offer we have achieved increases in starting salaries of 8.4% for pre-1992 academic staff and 13.4% for those in post-1992 institutions, for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Executive considered the offer at a special meeting held on 16 July. The offer was regarded as disappointing. In particular it fails to match the increases awarded to school teachers by their pay review body which recommended minimum increases of 3.5% and more for some of those on who are now on scales linked to performance. Other pay review bodies including those for nurses, health professions and for doctors and dentists recommended slightly higher increases. Furthermore the improvements in starting salaries do not apply to academic related grades.

Executive agreed that they could not recommend acceptance of the offer to members. However is was accepted that this is the best that can be achieved by negotiation. The offer is therefore being referred to a consultative ballot of members. Individual ballot forms will be issued shortly and an extended ballot period will be used to take account of the summer holiday period. Full details of the effect on individual pay points will be provided with the material distributed with the ballot forms.


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Discussions about revising London weighting continue to cause intense frustration. Despite employers indicating that they would make an offer to all HE staff in London on 2 July, when the meeting took place employers from pre-1992 institutions refused to make any offer. There is no formal collective bargaining body to deal with London weighting for staff in pre-1992 institutions. London local associations are now considering approaches to individual institutions.

For members in post 1992 institutions London weighting remains the responsibility of the national negotiating machinery. On the 15 July the employers offered increases on existing London allowance rates of £90 for inner London, £50 for outer London and £20 for the fringe. All trade unions said that this offer was unacceptable and that it would be referred to relevant members in a separate ballot.

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For staff in Scottish institutions who remain employed of contracts referred to FE 64 contracts, salary negotiations have not been passed to the new negotiating body for academic and related staff. Therefore their salaries are not formally effected by the negotiations described above. It was agreed however that separate discussions would take place in respect of those staff and that this would reported to the Academic Staff Sub-Committee (ASSC). In the event discussions took place between representatives of seven pre-1992 institutions from Scotland and the Scottish union EIS. No formal discussions have yet taken place involving the AUT and those other institutions where there are staff who remain on these contracts. It was noted by the ASSC that these talks will have to be conducted with individual institutions.


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Other Matters

It has been mentioned that these negotiations proved to very difficult. This was particularly disappointing given that they are the first to be conducted under the new machinery which was agreed last year and members have a right to expect that the increasingly serious problems of higher education pay can now be dealt with more effectively. However the employers continue to assert that they are constrained by funding difficulties and indeed some of them are attributing the need to make redundancies to current funding allocations. Furthermore as the Chancellor's announcement of spending plans for 2003-2006 took place on the same day, employers could not be persuaded to agree arrangements which either extended over a longer period than 12 months, or any interim measures that allowed for a further review of pay, in the light of the institutional funding spending situation later in the year.

In the light of these discussions the pay offer is accompanied by two statements. The first of these is an acknowledgement by the employers as well as the unions that the current offer does not address the pay problems identified by the Bett report and which have become more acute since. It also commits the employers to joint lobbying with the trade unions to secure the necessary funding to address those problems. The second statement has been included at the insistence of the employers who sought some flexibility in applying the offer where institutions have proposed redundancies in order to meet financial crises. The AUT together with all of the other unions refused to make such a 'get out clause' part of the agreement. Eventually it was agreed that a statement of the employer's position would accompany the offer but that this would be alongside the trade union view that we expect the offer to be honoured in full.

Also as part of the negotiations the employers insisted that a 'progress report' be agreed which can be presented to ministers as our commitment to pay reform and modernisation. Although drafting a progress report may seem like a straightforward exercise, it routinely means addressing issues such as job grading and job evaluation which still prove to be contentious both with employers and some other unions. A statement has now been agreed and this will be circulated as part of the materials about the ballot. The association's position remains that we are determined to negotiate new national grading structures which will provide for equal pay for work of equal value. The other academic unions take a similar view. The non-academic unions also wish to see national grading arrangements although they believe that this can be achieved in ways that allow the development of local job evaluation schemes. All of this will be reviewed by the national joint working party in the autumn and the association's advice remains that local job evaluation schemes must be resisted. Talks are taking place with a number of institutions that are interested in the approach that we are promoting.

Yours sincerely

Sally Hunt
General secretary

© 2002 Belfast Association of University Teachers
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