Belfast AUT Newsletter Issue no. 11- October 2003
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go to previous sectionprevious go to next sectionnext The Pay Campaign

Do not believe the headline in the Times Higher that you have been offered a 20% rise. This applies only to someone at the top of the present Lecturer A scale who is mysteriously transported to the top discretionary point of the proposed Academic 2 scale. At present such a person would be automatically advanced to Lecturer B, so the 20% would be at the cost of long-term prospects. You can use the tables in the August Newsletter to trace how your pay would change assuming that job evaluation placed you in the equivalent pay band. Very few would gain anything like 20%. On university pay the Higher has acted like a tabloid; recently it claimed that AUT were absent from a crucial pay meeting and then had to withdraw the claim. Check any claims with the AUT.

On 16 October AUT Council (the delegate body) met to pass judgement on the current pay offer. A selection of the motions passed are produced below. Delegates from all over the country found the offer unacceptable and instructed the National Executive to continue negotiations, but plan for industrial action. The objections to the offer are detailed below and are close to the views expressed at our recent General Meeting. Our next General Meeting (on 19 November) will give you an up-date on negotiations and will start planning industrial action should it become necessary.

go to topcontents go to previous sectionprevious go to next sectionnext AUT Council on the Pay Offer

Council does not accept the current pay offer and proposed framework agreement. Council notes that these proposals fail to address the recommendations of the Bett report with regard to the erosion of academic salaries.

Council instructs the executive to pursue urgent and serious negotiations with the employers with a view to addressing the serious points of difference within the current proposals.

Concurrently council instructs executive to consult urgently with the advisory committee on pay campaigning and industrial action to plan a campaign of industrial action. Executive should also discuss with the other academic unions the scope for united action. The purpose of action will be the agreement of an acceptable settlement through established bargaining machinery.

Council notes the steps that have already been taken to inform members of the negotiations. Council believes that significant information needs to be provided to members in order to build the support necessary to sustain the disruptive industrial action which might prove necessary to secure an acceptable settlement.

Council, therefore, resolves on a staged approach to the campaign, involving:


Council, concerned that the pay offer seeks to put in place:

  1. for its operation job descriptions and job evaluation schemes which are open to varying interpretation institution by institution and on a case by case basis. There is no safeguard that these schemes will be appropriate for the profession, transparent or gender neutral;
  2. progression through the grades and salary points which at any time may be the subject of managerially directed processes of re-assessment via an individualised job evaluation exercise on an ad personam basis;
  3. an ongoing situation whereby individual staff may find their post and their graded position altered and/or jeopardised by managerial ad hoc manipulation of strategic and decision-making roles etc. that carry job evaluation and therefore grading and salary implications for the individual;
  4. a system of internally negotiated institutional pay and promotion schemes which will imperil professional mobility and comparability, hereby damaging the reputation and credibility of higher education;
  5. a long grading scale of some 30 points for academic and academic-related staff, allowing only a 3% annual increment from point to point, thereby making little contribution towards the retention of professional staff, but encouraging point jumping via personal cases;
  6. an overall pay and promotion system which lacks consistency within and between institutions of higher education;
    rejects the de-professionalisation inherent in the so-called framework agreement, and the miserable pay offer accompanying it. PASSED nem con

Council deplores the employers' current pay offer and its associated package of changes in terms and conditions. In particular it specifically rejects the following elements of the offer:

  1. An increase of salary of only 3.44% for the first year and 3% for the second, which fails to address the serious erosion in salaries over the last decade and more.
  2. The de-coupling of academic-related staff from academic staff.
  3. Any job-sizing exercise that cannot be shown to be fair and transparent, and that involves any salary reduction for those currently in post.
  4. The halving in value of increments between the spinal points.

Council urges the AUT's national salary negotiation team to reject any revised offer from the employers that does not significantly ameliorate each of the above-noted elements. If the employers’ side will not make such changes to their offer, this association calls on the national executive to ballot on industrial action. PASSED nem con

The latest pay offer by our employers is unacceptable because it

  1. fails completely to measure up to the productivity increases delivered by university staff,
  2. fails to bring the pay of university staff into line with our comparators,
  3. fails to match the rise in the cost of living suffered by university staff and is therefore tantamount to a pay cut,
  4. universities can afford to pay much more,
  5. fails to address the issues of stress and deterioration in working conditions associated with the massive rise in student numbers and
  6. comes with unacceptable strings attached.

If further negotiations do not succeed, council instructs executive to initiate, following consultation with the advisory group on pay campaigning and industrial action, an escalating programme of industrial action which may include a one-day strike. PASSED nem con

Council notes with grave concern the clear threat to the academic-related link posed by the current pay offer.

Council instructs the executive, in consultation with the advisory group on pay campaigning and industrial action and the academic-related staff committee, to devise forms of action (e.g. withdrawal of goodwill, working to contract, a ban on out of hours working) which will allow the full participation of all categories of staff. PASSED

Council is concerned that, if implemented, industrial action may be called off to return to the negotiating table only to find that UCEA returns in bad faith and no significant progress is made in meeting the pay claim.

Council therefore instructs the executive that if industrial action is pursued, it may only be suspended, or a settlement recommended to the membership, by a further decision of council. PASSED

Council endorses the executive committee’s requirement that the following must form part of any national framework agreement on pay and structures:

  1. A pay offer which makes substantial progress towards achieving a pay settlement in line with the original AUT claim, which includes (a) compensation for inflation and (b) a catch up element.
  2. Retention of existing structures, which include the current links between academic/academic-related pay scales, until an acceptable alternative is agreed. Such an alternative structure will include

    a. Clear grade descriptors, which cover and maintain the linking of all grades for all academic and related staff, including hourly paid staff, represented at the academic bargaining table.

    b. Shorter incremental scales on which the value of increments and expectations of progression are better than at present.

    c. Clear and transparent criteria for progression to all points, including any discretionary points, to achieve equality and fairness.

  3. A commitment from the employers to respect the integrity of the agreed bargaining machinery including:

    i. a guarantee that national negotiations will be properly conducted at the academic bargaining table

    ii. a clear provision that any supplements to or variations from national agreements must be negotiated and agreed through recognised bargaining machinery. PASSED unanimously

Council recognises that the proposed changes to our pay and conditions are the most fundamental since at least the 23rd Report, and believes that the amount of time allowed for their negotiation at national and local level is insufficient, and that the pay awards offered are insufficient incentive to engage in such negotiations. Council therefore sets as preconditions to acceptance:

  1. an up-front, across the board pay increase in line with the original joint union pay claim for 2003;
  2. an agreed extension of the timetable for negotiations;
  3. an additional pay increase for 2004-5 in line with the original joint union pay claim whatever state the negotiations are in by then. PASSED unanimously

This council welcomes the inclusion of hourly paid staff in the proposed framework.

It asks its negotiators to ensure that the agreement sets out in the strongest possible terms that hourly paid staff are fairly rewarded for all the work time that they use for an institution, including where appropriate, for teaching staff, preparation time as well as contact hours, and all examination, tutorial and one-to-one advisory duties, and for all staff, attendance at meetings with management, staff meetings and staff development courses that they are entitled to attend. PASSED unanimously

go to topcontents go to previous sectionprevious go to next sectionnext Promotion and Contribution to the Community

Any academic and research staff contemplating applying for promotion should note that Contribution to the Community has been combined with Administration in a single profile.

The profiles for each type of promotion can be found on the personnel section of the QUB website. Contribution to the Community is now restricted to those activities formally registered with QUB’s web based Community Outreach Directory.

Belfast AUT argued against this change because of the narrow definitions of both contribution and of community, and because spontaneous or opportunistic contributions go unrecognised.

The management insisted on these changes, but met further opposition at Academic Council. As a concession, anybody claiming benefit in the current promotion round for unregistered activities has until 23 January to register them. You still need the approval of your Dean to register any Community Outreach programme.

The criteria for Accelerated Increments or Discretionary Pay have also been altered, but you still cannot apply yourself. If you believe that you deserve it, bend the ear of your Head of School immediately.

go to topcontents go to previous sectionprevious go to next sectionnext Agriculture

At present most degree-level teaching and research is carried out in QUB’s School of Agriculture and Food Science at Newforge Lane. Newforge also houses other facilities for the Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland (DANI). Some 70 of the civil servants hold honorary appointments from Queen’s and make up the academic staff of the School. QUB employs the contract research staff and some of the support staff. Sub-degree teaching and some research are carried out at other agricultural colleges and research stations in the province.

In a politically motivated shake-up, QUB and UU have been invited to bid for contracts to provide degree teaching and research. Any buildings and equipment needed can be hired from DANI at commercial rates and DANI will retain all its staff. The small number of students in agriculture and food science would support less than 20 university academic staff, and it may be difficult to achieve a spread of expertise. If QUB does not secure the contract, there will be a risk of redundancy for QUB contract research and support staff. When the situation is clearer we will call a meeting of members. Any AUT member needing advice or having information should contact an AUT officer.

go to topcontents go to previous sectionprevious go to next sectionnext Non-EU Staff Visiting the Republic

Some non-EU staff and students visiting the Irish Republic have encountered visa problems and have been stopped by the Garda (though allowed to continue). Officially they need to apply for a visa every time they entered the Irish Republic, even if it was just a day trip to a conference or to use a library. Obtaining a visa was costly and typically had a two month delay and so this requirement could severely hamper academic work. Belfast AUT raised this issue via our V-C and President McAleese. The outcome is that such people can obtain a multi-entry Irish visa for the duration of the period of validity of their UK visa. Details can be obtained from Mr Brendan Watters at the Visa Office of the Department of Foreign Affairs (Tel 6331006).

go to topcontents go to previous sectionprevious go to next sectionnext Pay Comparsons in NI Universities

Peter Robinson MP asked a parliamentary question about the breakdown by gender and salary bands of the academic and other staff employed by QUB and UU. He was given data for academic and academic-related staff only For the last of the academic years (2001-02) available, we reproduce the results below. (The percentages are mine.)

Salary of academic staff employed at Queen's University Belfast and the University of Ulster by gender

Queen's University of Belfast
University of Ulster
Salary (£)
20,000 or under
153     9.4%
158     9.7%
311   19.1%
111     7.9%
72      5.1%
183    13.1%
20,001 to 30,000
199   12.2%
317   19.5%
516   31.7%
214   15.3%
200    14.3%
414    29.5%
30,001 to 40,000
166   10.2%
355   21.8%
521   32.0%
146   10.4%
394    28.1%
540    38.5%
40,001 to 50,000
23     1.4%
95     5.8%
118     7.3%
42     3.0%
183    13.1%
225    16.0%
50,001 and above
21     1.3%
140     8.6%
161     9.9%
6     0.4%
34      2.4%
40      2.9%
562   34.5%
1065   65.5%
1627    100%
519   37.0%
883    63.0%
1402     100%

Source: HESA

Research staff are included in these figures and this may explain both the higher total staff at QUB and the higher numbers earning under £20,000.

Virtually all our clinical medical and dental staff are paid over £50,000 and this is a partial explanation of the differences at the other end of the pay spectrum.

On 1 March 2002 the non-clinical Senior Lecturer (and academic related grade 5) scale maximum rose to £38,603 and even with the maximum discretionary points it was only £41,732.

So the people in the last two pay bands in the table must be overwhelmingly professors, clinical academics and senior administrators. Despite the fact that Queen’s has Nursing and Midwifery where the staff are predominately female, QUB still has a lower proportion of females in the total staff than UU.

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General Meeting

General Meeting
1.05 p.m. Wednesday 19 November
309 Peter Froggatt Centre


1. Presentation of the Annual Accounts of Belfast AUT.

2. The Pay Campaign, negotiations and plans for action

3. Local Issues.

Paul Hudson

© 2003 Belfast Association of University Teachers
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