Nearly 70 staff in the education faculty of Aberdeen University may strike after a dispute with managers over the terms of their transfer from the former Northern College of Education.
A meeting on Wednesday failed to resolve the impasse between the Educational Institute of Scotland's university lecturers' branch and university administrators.
Marion Healy, EIS national officer, said: "This is the most intransigent management I have ever met in my entire life."
The union claims the university is refusing to award the lecturers any pay increase this year unless they agree to sign non-research contracts that would seriously damage their existing conditions.
Those who signed the new contracts would lose 20 days' holiday and be placed on open-ended contracts that would not stipulate their working week.
Ms Healy said members would consider transferring if the university was prepared to offer incentives, as Glasgow and Edinburgh universities had done.
"All they are looking for is some acknowledgement of what they are giving up," Ms Healy said.
A senior university spokesperson said 32 members of the education faculty had conditions of service (FE64) that were no longer part of the national negotiating framework. "We are unaware of any pay dispute with the above staff members as we have not been informed by the trade union," she said.