University staff to strike for whole day over pay deductions

Staff at 11 higher education institutions are to walk out for a whole day in a protest of what they believe is “unlawfully deducted” pay.

February 7, 2014

Employees at most UK universities are only going on strike for two hours on 10 February between 9am and 11am as part of the University and College Unions’s strategy of short sharp strikes over this year’s 1 per cent pay offer.

But lecturers and other university staff at three Scottish universities – the University of Aberdeen, Robert Gordon University and the University of the West of Scotland – and eight English higher education institutions will be on strike for a full day because they are angry at the universities docking a full day’s pay for two-hour stoppages.

Mary Senior, UCU Scotland official, said union members at the Scottish universities had taken the action because “staff are so furious at how they have been treated”.

“Docking a full day’s pay for just a two-hour strike has led to even more disruption and demonstrates that the universities’ motives were intimidation and penny-pinching,” she said.

“We will be launching a legal challenge to recover money we believe has been unlawfully deducted and, unless the employers finally sit down and start talking about a fair pay increase, further disruption, unfortunately, is to be expected,” she added.

The action on Monday will be the sixth time that UCU members have walked out in their dispute over a “miserly” offer of 1 per cent, which they claim will result in a 13 per cent pay cut in real terms since 2009 following four successive below-inflation rises.

Three of the strikes have been full day walk-outs, while three have been two-hour stoppages, which some universities argue constitute “partial performance” and allows them to deduct pay for the whole day.

Other institutions taking part in the full day walk-out on Monday are: the University of Bradford, Leeds College of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University, Nottingham Trent University, Staffordshire University, Queen Mary University of London, the University of East London and the University of Greenwich, the UCU says.

The Universities and Colleges Employers Association, which negotiates pay on behalf of institutions, say universities cannot afford to improve this year’s offer and that strike action had had “little or no impact” at most institutions.

It is urging unions to turn their attention to pay negotiations for 2014-15, which are due to begin next month.

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