Universities docking staff pay will face legal challenge

22 January 2014

Universities docking staff pay will face legal challengeUCU logo

UCU said today that any university that tries to dock a full day’s pay from staff taking two hours’ strike action on Thursday would face a legal challenge and an escalation of industrial action at their institution.

The union issued its warning that it would seek to recover any unlawfully deducted pay through the courts as 11 universities sent letters to staff threatening to take a full day’s pay from anyone involved in the first of a series of two-hour walkouts.

The institutions threatening to withhold a full day’s pay are Nottingham Trent University, University of Chester, Dundee University, Oxford Brookes University, Glasgow Caledonian University, University of Leicester, De Montfort University, University of Staffordshire, Wolverhampton University, Surrey University and Leeds College of Art.

The union said that universities who dock a full day’s pay would cause greater disruption for their students and accused them of penny-pinching and bullying. By refusing to pay staff, or allowing them to work all day on Thursday, there will be full day’s disruption, rather than the planned two hours between 11am and 1pm.

UCU is embroiled in a pay dispute with UK universities after university bosses refused to improve a 1% pay offer that will leave staff with a real-terms 13% pay cut since 2009. Union members took two days of strike action last year and have warned of more industrial action to come if the employers refuse to come back to the negotiating table with a fair pay offer.

Last week student groups described the employers’ 1% pay offer as ‘measly’ and called for a quick resolution to the dispute. Lecturers’ positions have hardened in recent weeks following a glut off embarrassing stories about vice-chancellors’ pay.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘Any university that tries to dock a full day’s pay for a two-hour walkout will face a legal challenge from us and an escalation of strike action, as well as risking considerable damage to their reputation for fair play.

‘Perversely, any universities that do dock a full day’s pay will ensure far greater disruption for their students, which suggests the approach has nothing to do with the welfare of staff or students and is based around penny-pinching and bullying.

‘Any kind of disruption is always a last resort but, after five years of pay suppression with members 13% worse off in real terms, we want a fair deal.’

The three two-hour stoppages are scheduled to take at these times:

Thursday 23 January 11am-1pm

Tuesday 28 January 2pm-4pm

Monday 10 February 9am-11am

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