McCrone looks to have got it right

27th February 2004 at 00:00
This week's walk-out by university academic staff and next week's first all-out and unprecedented strike by nursery nurses are a timely reminder that growing disgruntlement over public sector pay is coming home to roost.

Who would have thought that these two groups would be in the vanguard of militancy? Readers with long memories will recall a previous campaign by the Association of University Teachers - "rectify the anomaly" - which was as stirring as it got.

The mood among lecturers will not be helped by last week's "league table" of university principals' pay, published in The Times Higher Education Supplement. A 60 per cent hike for Aberdeen's Duncan Rice, the biggest rise, takes his salary to pound;235,000 and compares rather well with the Prime Minister's measly pound;175,000. This is the kind of recruiting sergeant for the unions that employers could do without.

Nursery nurses, too, point enviously to teachers' pay, while further education lecturers argue that they are falling further behind. There are indeed anomalies, as the AUT might say. Perhaps it is now time for the nursery, college and university sectors to receive the McCrone treatment.

As disaffection spreads elsewhere, the teachers' agreement looks increasingly like a good deal.

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