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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 July 2006, 10:11 GMT 11:11 UK
Lecturers vote to take pay offer
Lecturers marching for more pay
The marking boycott led to recriminations on both sides
University lecturers have voted to accept a pay rise of 13.1% over three years, ending a long-running dispute with employers.

The deal, as a result of negotiations by leaders of the University and College Union, follows a three-month boycott of exam and coursework marking.

Some 71% of UCU members who took part in the ballot voted to accept the offer, while 29% voted against.

The union had been seeking a pay rise of more than 20% over three years.

'Long way to go'

UCU joint general secretary Sally Hunt said: "The final settlement provides a solid first step towards restoring pay levels in our universities to those of comparable professions, but our employers must realise that there remains a long way to go."

She said that pay bargaining needed "urgent reform", adding: "In the meantime this dispute has shown that the days when universities could hold salaries down and take our members' goodwill for granted are over for good."

Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell said: "We really welcome this result. It brings stability for students, lecturers and staff for the next three years.

"I know everyone will want to put this dispute behind them and focus on the year ahead."

The boycott of exam and coursework-marking, which began in March, had threatened to disrupt thousands of graduations this summer and delay job applications.

President of the National Union of Students, Gemma Tumelty, said there was a "palpable sense of relief across UK campuses now the action is over".

She added: "We now need now to look to the future. NUS has received assurances from the UCU that its members are doing everything they can to ensure that students get any delayed marks back as soon as possible."

August 2006 - greater of 3% or 515
February 2007 - 1%
August 2007 - 3%
October 2008 - greater of 2.5% or RPI (at September 2008)
May 2008 - greater of 3% or 420

The industrial action was suspended last month, after union leaders agreed to the deal.

The UCU said a "very large" number of members had taken part in the nationwide ballot which followed.

Geoffrey Copland, chairman of the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association, said: "I am delighted at the substantial support for the pay agreement.

"This news will be welcomed by employers, staff, students, parents and all those affected by the recent dispute."

Decline in earnings

The academic unions AUT and Natfhe, which merged to form the UCU earlier this year, had pushed for a pay rise of more than 20%, to address a decline over the years compared with other professions.

Many members were annoyed when the national negotiators announced they could not get a better offer and the action was called off.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), representing academic staff in newer universities in Scotland, was not formally in dispute.

It balloted its members on the previous employers' offer of 12.6%. The result was that 72% of those voting rejected it and backed action short of a strike, on a turnout of 52%.

As events had overtaken them its leaders decided not to act on this but to ballot again on the final offer, recommending that members reject it.

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