Sunday, October 31, 1999 Published at 18:37 GMT
Lecturers suspend strike threat
Lecturers will now negotiate over contracts and equal pay
University lecturers have withdrawn the threat of industrial action - without achieving any extra pay rise.
The Association of University Teachers (AUT), which staged a one-day strike last term in support of a pay claim, has announced it is to suspend industrial action.
Although there has been no agreement on pay - the union wants a 10% pay rise and the employers are offering 3.5% - negotiations are to re-open on issues of short-term contracts and equal pay for female staff.
The union says it is still pursuing its pay claim and says there could be another ballot over strike action in the New Year.
But it has decided to stop the current campaign, which has seen a range of protest actions, including the disruption of the admissions process and a refusal to carry out some administrative tasks.
The proposed negotiations between the AUT and the Universities and Colleges Employers Association will address what the union says is the growing threat of short-term contracts.
According to the union, four out of five new contracts for lecturers are non-permanent - which the union says "lowers morale...and is unnecessary, degrading and wasteful".
The union's general secretary, David Triesman, says this short-term contract culture allows universities "to hire and fire like a Victorian mill owner".
The union also wants to tackle what it claims is "pay discrimination", which it says has seen female staff earning less and receiving fewer promotions than male staff.