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Thursday, 15 February, 2001, 13:00 GMT
Lecturers suspend action
lecture hall
Lecturers end industrial action as talks progress
Lecturers in the new universities have suspended their industrial action over pay.

They voted by three to one to work normally as sustantive talks got underway with their employers.

Non-teaching staff at universities are also suspending their industrial action.

The dispute, which began in December, led to some students not receiving exam results.

Nurses and midwives have been prevented from qualifying because of the action.

The dispute - by academic and support staff in higher education - began in December in protest at a 3% pay rise announced by universities last autumn.


Our members will be expecting to see some concrete progress

Tom Wilson, Natfhe
The action had involved lecturers working to contract and with-holding the results of exams and course-work, with many trainee nurses and midwives unable to qualify as a result.

But unions recommended their members suspend all action, after the Universities and Colleges' Employers Association agreed to enter talks aimed at ending the long-running dispute.

The talks were taking place in London on Thursday.

Tough negotiations

Union negotiators want to reach a two-year deal over pay and improvements to working conditions.

The lecturers union, Natfhe, said the suspension of industrial action was a mark of goodwill on the part of members, who were now expecting employers to bargain in good faith.

But the union warned that the action would resume if there was no agreement from the talks and threatened to mount one-day strikes in the spring.

Tom Wilson, head of Natfhe's universities department, said: "Our members will be expecting to see some concrete progress now towards improving their standards of living and ability to do their job."

It is hoped the talks will conclude by the end of March.

Non-teaching staff at universities are also working normally following the scheduling of talks.

Support

The Association of University Teachers did not take industrial action but said it supported it.

A spokeswoman for the public sector workers' union, Unison, confirmed that industrial action had been suspended.

She said: "Our members in higher education are some of the lowest paid workers in the public sector.

"The unions are taking a joint approach in suspending their action and we hope that things will get better. David Blunkett put extra money into higher education last year and this should be used to improve pay."

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See also:

26 Jan 01 | Education
Academics march for more money
07 Feb 01 | Education
Student nurses' marks released
05 Dec 00 | Education
University staff work to rule
30 Jan 01 | Education
Lecturers' strike holds firm
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