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Progress in talks on discriminatory pay system at Havering College

25 October 2006 | last updated: 15 December 2015

Talks to address a discriminatory pay system at Havering College have begun to make progress, says lecturers' union UCU.

Lecturers felt so strongly about the system of performance-related pay that was introduced at the college in 2005, that they balloted to strike over it.

The result of that ballot, announced on 20 October, found that nearly three-quarters (74%) were in favour of walking out over the unfair and divisive pay system.

At Havering College, the performance-related pay system means that in order to make gradual movements up the pay scales, a lecturer must perform 'above and beyond the call of duty'. An individual lecturer's progress is measured by his or her head of department. There are no objective criteria stated for what constitutes progress. UCU has seen the system lead to difficulties for the college in recruiting and retaining high-quality staff.

After pressure from the union, the college has re-entered negotiations over the system as it currently operates and management are clearly indicating that they wish to improve the system by making it more transparent and fair. The solution currently being discussed is far from ideal but will make it significantly more achievable for hard-working academic staff to be properly rewarded.

Roger Kline, UCU head of equality and employment rights, who visited the college on Monday, told lecturers: 'The evidence is overwhelming that performance-related pay systems, especially individual ones, are innately prone to discrimination and unfairness.

'We know that performance-related pay demoralises and divides staff, leads to game playing in appraisals, and absorbs enormous amounts of management and staff time. It is bad for staff and bad for students.

'There is no reason why merit and achievement in education can't be rewarded so as to benefit everyone through an agreed and transparent promotion process.

'At Havering, we are very pleased that management agreed to talks with a view to making this scheme more transparent and fair. Some progress has been made but there is still a way to go to ensure hard-working lecturers are fairly and properly rewarded. We hope to make further breakthroughs in the coming weeks.'

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