Docking bungle stings workers not strikers

April 14, 2006

Union leaders hope that the complexities of calculating how much pay to dock from boycotting academics may prove too much for managers after an administrative bungle by Bradford University meant that striking staff were paid while those who showed up for work were penalised.

Bradford this week confirmed that it had not only failed to dock a day's pay from members of the Association of University Teachers who took part in the strike on March 7, it had also accidentally withheld pay from staff who worked normally.

A university spokesman admitted that there had been a "mix-up". He said:

"There was a situation where some non-union members had pay deducted wrongly because it wasn't made clear who exactly the absent members of staff were. This situation will be remedied in the April pay run."

The AUT said that Bradford's "cock-up" demonstrated the difficulty vice-chancellors faced in fulfilling their threats to dock pay.

It is standard practice to withhold a day's pay for a day's strike, but many vice-chancellors have warned that they will dock part of a day's pay from anyone carrying out only some of their contracted duties.

The difficulty is in deciding how much to dock. This can be calculated accurately only if universities know exactly who has been boycotting and to what extent.

Sally Hunt, the AUT's general secretary, said: "The events at Bradford show how difficult the process of pay docking is.

"Universities should be spending more time negotiating and less time trying to devise schemes to penalise staff who are taking part in lawful industrial action."

Meanwhile, Bradford's director of human resources this week warned staff that the university's previous promise not to withhold pay for the action short of a strike, was to be reviewed.

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Register to continue  

You've enjoyed reading five THE articles this month. Register now to get five more, or subscribe for unrestricted access.

Most Commented

Track runner slow off the starting blocks

Lack of independent working blamed for difficulties making the leap from undergraduate to doctoral work

Quality under magnifying glass

Hefce's new standards regime will enable universities to focus on what matters to students, says Susan Lapworth

A keyboard with a 'donate' key

Richard Budd mulls the logic of giving money to your alma mater

Long queue

Lobbying intensifies ahead of Lord Stern's review of crucial assessment into university research performance

Elly Walton illustration (21 April 2016)

Many Italians have refused to take part in the country’s research assessment exercise. Alberto Baccini and Giuseppe De Nicolao consider the protest’s impact