Staff to lose pay over marking boycott

UCU-logoTHE UNIVERSITY have sent an email to staff members, in which they have stated their support for proposed changes to the pension scheme, the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS). The email, sent by Sue Chambers, Director of Human Resources, follows the announcement on 27th October that academics at 69 higher education institutions would be undertaking an assessment boycott from the 6th November after a ballot by the University and College Union (UCU).

The email further informs staff that up to 100 percent of pay will be withheld from those who participate in the marking boycott, stating that:

“We reserve the right to withhold 100% of pay, at a daily rate of 1/260th of annual salary…in the first instance we will withhold 25% of pay at a daily rate of 1/260th of annual salary from the date on which you begin to take part in the industrial action short of a strike. The payment of salary for the remaining 75% is discretionary and is conditional on other contractual responsibilities and attendance commitments being met. We reserve the right to increase the percentage withheld up to 100% during any period where we judge the impact of the partial performance on Aberystwyth University, including our students, to have become even more serious.”

It further adds that:

“We reserve the right to increase the percentage withheld up to 100% during any period where we judge the impact of the partial performance on Aberystwyth University, including our students, to have become even more serious.”

The email was sent to all staff members who are in the USS pension scheme, and was heavily populated with UCU members.  The email was not bccd – meaning that every recipient of the email could see who all the other recipients were, in breach of the Data Protection Act. Crucially, this means that line managers may now be able to see which employees are members of unions, which employers are not supposed to hold data on.

Education Officer Grace Burton stated that:

“I can’t overstate how disappointed we in the Students’ Union are with this development. In recent days and weeks other universities have come out in support of their staff so to see University management talk to our lecturers like this is really upsetting. The last thing the University needs is more bad publicity and yet this completely unnecessary stance seems to be inviting criticism with open arms. It beggars belief.”

A University spokesperson stated that:

“On Wednesday 5 November the University circulated information to members of staff that set out the University’s position regarding the proposed industrial action by the University and College Union (UCU) beginning on Thursday 6th November. The e-mail contained important information and instructions that staff needed to be aware of in advance of the industrial action.

The University does not hold a list of UCU members and the list used is NOT of UCU members.  The University issued the statement to all relevant members of staff to ensure they are aware of the University’s position in respect of the action short of strike and the impact this may have on them.

As names and contact details for all members of staff are already in the public domain, the act of including names in the e-mail distribution list does not constitute a breach of the Data Protection Act.”