The University of Chester has reversed its earlier decision to withhold a full day’s pay from any members of the University and College Union (UCU) taking part in a two-hour walkout today (Thursday, January 23).
UCU is embroiled in a pay dispute with UK universities claiming bosses have refused to improve a 1% pay offer that would leave staff with a real-terms 13% pay cut since 2009.
UCU members will walk out for two hours today between 11am and 1pm in the first of a series of short stoppages designed to disrupt the teaching schedule.
The university has now decided to withhold pay only for the duration of today’s action but will withhold a full day’s pay in respect of other two-hour stoppages scheduled for next Tuesday and on February 10 as well as a full day strike on February 6.
Union spokesman Dan Ashley said: “It is good that Chester has recognised that punitive pay docking not only makes staff even angrier, but it also increases disruption for students. The baffling behaviour of some vice-chancellors to threaten to lock staff out and therefore increase disruption has more in common with 1930s Chicago than modern industrial relations. Vice-chancellors should spend more time trying to resolve the dispute and less trying to play macho games.”
Julie Dagnall, director of Human Resource Management, said in an email to staff: “Whilst I accept that my email of January 17 was to the point, it was not intended to be intimidatory or aggressive, nor was it calculated to hurt colleagues.
“Strike action whether it be for a full day or for part of a day constitutes a breach of contract and as UCU is already aware, our policy states that the University does not accept partial performance of contract and clearly spells out what the financial consequences are for those taking part in strike action.”
She added: “We have decided that in respect of the action scheduled to take place on January 23 only we will withhold pay only for the duration of the action, payment for the remainder of the day being made on an ex-gratia basis.”
But Ms Dagnall warned: “In conclusion I reiterate that the University’s position in respect of the industrial action scheduled for January 28 and February 10 remains that we will not accept partial performance of the contract of employment on those days and that we will withhold pay accordingly.”