THE DECISION by university bosses to withhold pay from staff taking legitimate industrial action has been condemned in an open letter.
The industrial action will begin on Thursday 6 November, and is over a dispute in recent pension scheme proposals by universities that would see academics lose thousands of pounds in retirement.
The action will take the form of an assessment boycott meaning students will be unable to receive formal marks or feedback as well as sit exams.
The open letter, addressed directly to Vice Chancellor Koen Lamberts, is accompanied by a petition which can be signed by anyone and has currently attracted over 200 signatories.
The letter reads: “Your threat to dock 100% pay on a continuous basis – which amounts to nothing less than old-fashioned union-busting – might be expected of a nineteenth century mill owner, but it has absolutely no place in a university system which, quite rightly, values collegiality.”
Dr Simon Hall, a lecturer at the University of Leeds and author of the letter, expanded saying: “the threat of 100% pay docking, on a continuous basis, is clearly disproportionate, and seems designed to either intimidate staff into not taking any action to defend their pensions, or to break their spirit.”
The university responded to the letter saying: “We do not recognise partial performance of contractual duties and will withhold pay from members of staff who participate in industrial action.
“However, as a gesture of goodwill, we will continue to make employers’ contributions for those staff participating in industrial action. Any pay withheld from staff will be used to support student causes.”
A University spokesman told Times Higher Education: We are disappointed that the UCU has chosen to take industrial action just as the national negotiations are getting underway.
“This action will not change the University’s position with regard to those negotiations – we encourage both sides to address this issue at the negotiating table.”
The full open letter can be read here: http://leedsucu.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/open-letter-to-the-vc-of-the-university-of-york/