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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 June 2006, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
Anger over university pay deal
student taking exam
Work that had been on hold is being resumed
Members of a local University and College Union branch have called on their national leaders to resign over the pay deal they have accepted.

The leadership suspended a marking boycott after agreeing a 13.1% rise over three years with the employers.

The deal includes a review of the money available for pay, which the leaders have said might mean a bigger rise.

But some of their members are angry and the Cardiff University branch has called for their resignation.

The deal is subject to a ballot of the membership, likely to take about three weeks.

In the meantime the marking boycott that had affected thousands of students has been called off.

'Months of pain'

Cardiff UCU president Mark Aston said: "The national leadership has breached the commitment they made to consult with members before suspending industrial action.

"Union members approved the industrial action by a large majority. The leaders' unilateral decision to suspend the action has left lecturers with little to show after months of pain suffered by students and lecturers alike."

He added: "I would expect that local associations up and down the country are likely to echo our sentiments and call for heads to roll."

One of those who spoke at the meeting, Todd Bailey, said: "When you consider that public sector wages have increased by over 15% in the last three years, you have to ask by what stretch of the imagination does a pay rise of 13% over the next three years constitute a pay rise?"


A member of the local union executive, Terence Iles, told BBC News there had been about 58 people at the meeting - out of a local membership of more than 1,000 - but he had never known such strength of feeling.

"It was not just at the deal but the way that all of a sudden the union folded," he said.

"Colleagues are unanimous in saying this is ridiculous. I haven't heard anybody say it's a good deal."

Another union member, Mike Stannett, e-mailed the BBC to say he was "angry - very angry".

"The pay deal accepted by Sally Hunt is an insult to all we have been fighting for over the past months, and she is clearly unfit to head our union," said Dr Stannett, a lecturer in the department of computer science at Sheffield University.

"I therefore call on my colleagues throughout the union to bring a motion of no confidence against her at the earliest possible opportunity."

A spokesman for the UCU said that a gathering of local branch presidents two weeks ago had said the key things were to get a review of pay and at least 10% over two years - both of which the negotiators had achieved.

"We have had quite a lot of people come in and say 'well done'," he said.

"So we will see how the ballot goes."

Are you affected by the pay deal? Send us your comments.

Your earlier comments

I sit here in my office reading BBC news, looking out of my window across a sunny campus, content that I'll soon be going for a leisurely lunch with a couple of students. I might leave my office at 4pm and wander down to the lakeside for a picnic with my graduating tutees. In no other profession could I hope to have such a pleasant, relaxed day at work. I agree that I am underpaid; I agree that the union seems to have sold us short; but I accept my level of pay because I don't have the stress of a commute to work in a stuffy office with fixed hours. In fact, I have the joy of interacting on a daily basis with bright young people. And for that I am happy to trade in a chunk of my 'professional' salary.
S., Staffordshire, England

I agree it's not a good deal. Pay rises in the last few years have typically averaged 3-4% to keep up with inflation, so we'd presumably have got something like this without using industrial action. This really does nothing towards rebuilding the UK's underfunded, dilapidated, overcrowded, run-down university system. The attitude of UCEA, the Vice Chancellors, the minister and the government generally suggest that nothing is going to change soon. I could double my salary if I worked in my profession rather than lecturing and researching in a university. However, I believe in what I do and I enjoy it. That does not mean that I deserve to be exploited. I could more than double my salary if I went to work in a US university. I've been approached more than once and I always ignored the idea. The lessons learned watching this dispute indicate to me that there is no future in UK academia. For the first time ever, I am seriously thinking of leaving and going to work in the US.
London lecturer, London

Little more to say to what you've reported. It's a disgraceful result. In my time I've seen student numbers increase (in my area from 50 to 180) workloads go through the roof and an increasingly bullish management which incorporates all the evils of the much vaunted private sector with non of the positives (and I've led a local council)!
Gary, Huddersfield

Like our colleagues in Cardiff, myself and many of colleagues here at Queen's University Belfast feel betrayed and let down by the UCU cave-in. The deal that has been 'agreed' is totally unacceptable. To suspend the strike so quickly without consultation has also left many academic staff in a deep hole, with piles of exam papers to mark in a very short time period of time (about a week) before our exam boards go ahead. This unfeasible timescale is bound to impact the quality of marking, and therefore students. I, for one, will be voting against the deal in the forthcoming ballot. Sally Hunt and the AUT/UCU leadership's position is now untenable.
Anon, Belfast, UK

Of course I'm disappointed, but I don't think the negotiators could have done much better and it is a fact that we were losing the support of the students towards the end. I still blame the employers for saying one thing and doing another (more than once) but we have to hope the independent review will come up with something. 10%+ over the first two years isn't bad. I certainly don't support any move to censure the UCU leadership. Who am I to say I would have done any better?
William Brooks, Bath, UK

So, UCU believe they have secured a victory by having the UCEA commit to an independent review of university finances in 3 years time? The main point of disagreement between the unions and university employers is the amount of money available in the system to finance salary increases. UCEA say there is not enough money to finance salary rises anywhere near what the unions demanded; the unions say there is more than enough. Surely it must be clear to the unions that the universities now have three years to spend their surplus funds on the projects they wanted to spend them on in the first place (new buildings, for instance). Then, when the independent review finally takes place, its verdict will be that there are insufficient monies to finance further salary rises. And UCEA will chant 'told you so'. Well done UCU!
Dr Will Curran, Belfast, Northern Ireland

UCU joint president Steve Wharton explains the pay deal

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