Universities threatening big pay deductions risk prolonging strikes.
After 5 days of strike action, staff at 61 Universities have returned to work while taking actions short of a strike, otherwise known as ASOS. In response however, some Universities have threatened to withhold their whole pay for the entire period for which lecturers undertake ASOS.
The UCU has stated that these actions could cause the strikes to be prolonged
The conditions of ASOS mean that lecturers will be working to their contact but will wilfully evade other aspects of teaching duties such as: not covering for absent colleagues, not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action and not undertaking any voluntary activities.
As a result, some universities have declared a stance against lecturers taking ASOS, stating that they would withold large sums of money from staff involved.
The University of Sheffield has said if staff have not rescheduled missed lectures within two days it will deduct 25% of their salary and after five days it will withhold 100% of salary. The University of St Andrews has said it will deduct 100% of salary for any form of action short of a strike.
The University of Kent has said it will withhold 50% of pay for ASOS but reserves the right to withhold 100% and any work staff then undertake would be voluntary. Kent is also under fire for “punishing its most vulnerable employees the harshest”
The UCU has stated that these actions could cause the strikes to be prolonged and worsen issues and disputes between Universities and lectures in the future.
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “Universities that wish to exploit the law and punish their staff as much as possible are storing up problems for the future and risk prolonging the dispute.
“Action short of a strike highlights just how much universities rely on the goodwill of their staff who go the extra mile. Universities will need that goodwill when this dispute is all over, so it seems foolish to find ways now to maximise the punishment of their staff.
“There has been a spectrum of reactions from Universities in regard to the strike action and towards ASOS in particular. Some have recognised the debating to be at a crucial stage and have stepped back from a previously hostile position.”
“Some universities recognise we are at a crucial stage in this dispute and are adopting a more conciliatory tone”
Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary
Hunt commented: “It is encouraging that some universities recognise we are at a crucial stage in this dispute and are adopting a more conciliatory tone. We would urge institutions like Kent, Sheffield and St Andrews to do the same or risk being seen as the pariahs of the sector.”
A large number of lecturers at Newcastle University continue to strike against the reduction of pensions, in association with the UCU.