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Breakthrough in university pay talks

PUBLISHED: 20:45 06 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:58 22 October 2010

University bosses and lecturers' leaders have reached a breakthrough in pay talks ending months of industrial action which has hit thousands of students' exams.

University bosses and lecturers' leaders have reached a breakthrough in pay talks ending months of industrial action which has hit thousands of students' exams.

But while the news was welcomed by the UEA representative of the National Union of Students (NUS), he said it had come too late for many of those completing courses this year.

Many students may still go into the graduation ceremonies not knowing which degree level they have reached because of the refusal by lecturers to mark coursework and exam papers.

The news came just hours after UEA students staged a mock-graduation ceremony in protest over the fact that certificates will not be handed out at this year's official ceremonies.

Andy Higson, spokesman for the UEA branch NUS, said: "We are delighted the strike action is over.

"We had sympathy for lecturers and feel they were forced into it because the government broke promises over how money raised from top-up fees would be used to improve their terms.

"But in many ways this is not over because there is still a large number of students who have suffered as a result of this action and it will not be over until that is put right."

After negotiations at the TUC in London, the University and College Union

(UCU) agreed a new three-year deal with the employers' group UCEA on pay for academics.

The union immediately announced that the national boycott of assessment would be suspended from midnight, with the pay deal put to a ballot of members.

The deal is worth 13.1pc over three years but it is worth 15.5pc for cleaners, porters, security staff and other non-academic university workers.

About 150,000 support staff, including some of the lowest paid workers in the academic sector such as cleaners had been threatening strikes over pay.

The industrial action had disrupted exams and coursework at universities across the UK since March.

Dennis Hayes and Dr Steve Wharton, joint presidents of the UCU, said: "The industrial action is being stood down with immediate effect and UCU members will be balloted on the new offer.

"It is our members' magnificent solidarity during this dispute that has got us to this point, and universities must return monies docked from those members' salaries who took part in the action."

The union's joint general secretaries, Sally Hunt and Paul Mackney said: "No settlement ever provides everything that you want for members, but we believe that this is the best that can be achieved within the current national negotiating environment.

"Members will see significant increases in their salaries over the next two years, but we are acutely aware that this will still not make up the ground lost over the past decades."


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