More universities pledge to withhold pay from boycott staff

At least three more universities are to withhold full pay from staff participating in the marking boycott over proposed pension changes.

November 6, 2014

In a message sent to University of Surrey staff, the institution says it will withhold all pay from anyone who does not declare that they are not involved in an assessment boycott, which began on 6 November.

Staff at 69 pre-92 universities are taking part in the marking boycott over plans to reduce the benefits paid by the Universities Superannuation Scheme, which has a deficit of at least £8 billion.

“Partial performance of your contract of employment will not be accepted by the University and if you are unwilling to perform your full duties then you should not attend work,” the Surrey email says.

In a separate document, Surrey says it “will be asking some colleagues to do extra work supporting assessment by substituting for those colleagues who are taking part in industrial action”.

“Deans are to be mindful of build-up of marking when designating substitute markers,” says David Ashton, registrar and vice-president, in the document on ensuring “turnaround times” are met.

Staff were due to hold an emergency meeting on 6 November about the sanctions.

UEA has also confirmed it will deduct full pay from staff taking part in the boycott.

“The university does not accept partial performance from any member of staff,” a UEA spokeswoman said, adding that “those who refuse to carry out duties including marking and assessment will be in breach of their contract of employment”.

“It is the policy of UEA to withhold 100 per cent of the pay of members of staff not completing contractual duties,” she added.

“The university’s primary concern is to minimise disruption to students’ studies and their ability to progress,” she continued.

The University of Ulster has also told staff it will withhold 100 per cent of pay from anyone taking part in the action.

“Ulster is focused providing the best possible teaching and learning experience and sees the action as having an immediate and very serious adverse effect on our students,” it said.

Last week, the University of York became what was believed to be the first to say it would deduct full pay from boycotting staff, although it announced on 5 November that it is to review the decision after about 500 staff signed a petition against the move.

The University of Bradford is also believed to be threatening a 100 per cent pay deduction.

According to the university’s UCU branch website, an “overwhelming majority” of members at an emergency general meeting voted to escalate the industrial action to a full indefinite strike from 17 November over the move.

Bradford has yet to confirm its policy after it was contacted by Times Higher Education.

A Universities and Colleges Employers Association spokesman said the “vast majority of scheme members…have no wish to cause any harm with ill-timed industrial action taking place while negotiations continue”.

Universities are taking different approaches to pay deductions, he added.

“Some of those universities have stated that they will withhold 100 per cent of pay and all reserve the right to do so, though some are currently advising they will withhold pay at a different level at present and would adjust this depending on their timetabling of exams and assessments and their evaluation of the impact of the industrial action,” he said.

“UCU knows very well – and has seen from their previous industrial action – that universities will not sit by while students’ education is harmed,” Ucea added.

UCU has already threatened a full academic boycott at those universities that withhold 100 per cent of pay.

jack.grove@tesglobal.com

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Reader's comments (1)

Newcastle University has also said that it will deduct 25% pay for those members of staff joining the ASOS.

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