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Intimidation of union members at Ulster University

November 4, 2014

Management at Ulster University have adopted an anti-union stance, sending staff an intimidating email threatening punitive action against them if they take part in lawful industrial action over pension cuts. The union members will observe action short of a strike but management have threatened to dock staff their full pay during the period of the dispute.

In an email sent to staff, the management have said:

Where an individual member of staff chooses to take this action, the breach of contract will lead the University to withhold 100% of pay, at a daily rate of 1/365th of annual salary from the date on which you begin to participate in industrial action short of a strike.

UCU members across the UK will implement a marking boycott beginning on the 6th November but otherwise they will teach as normal, as well as attending to their other administrative duties. But management at Ulster expect its staff to perform these jobs voluntarily:

If you take part in action short of a strike in the form of a marking and assessment boycott but perform the rest of your duties as normal, this would be at your discretion and the University will be under no obligation to pay you at all for any work done during the period in which you participate in this industrial action.  Those services you provide during the period, whether in the University, at home, or elsewhere, will be voluntary on your part and will not be paid.

The bullying email comes at a time when other university managements have publicly expressed their concerns about the proposed pension cuts.

The anti-union behaviour of Ulster is all the more perverse since the union and management are united in attempting to get a better deal from DEL for both universities in Northern Ireland.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. almost a clever academic permalink
    November 4, 2014 10:33 pm

    Sounds identical to the message MMU sent to us all last year. Maybe they have the same person writing these things.

    “MMU will withhold 100% of pay from any member of staff who participates in this action for each day of continuous action. We very much regret that this response will be taken but it is a reflection of the seriousness for students and for the institution of such potentially damaging industrial action and we sincerely hope that the action will not take place.”

    And

    “If you were to take part in the assessment boycott action short of a strike but perform the rest of your duties as normal, this would be at your discretion and MMU will be under no obligation to pay you at all for any work done during the period in which you participated in this industrial action. Those services you did provide during the period, whether in the University, at home, or elsewhere, would be voluntary on your part and would not be paid. The withholding of pay is without prejudice to any other right or remedy of the University, including any claim for damages for breach of contract.”

  2. Alan Roe permalink
    November 5, 2014 2:44 am

    Die and your family will suffer – it doesn’t get lower than this:

    From: “briefing”
    Date: 4 November 2014 16:06:42 GMT
    To: ,
    Subject: Special Staff Briefing: Industrial Action – attachment now included
    Please note: This briefing now includes the proforma attached

    Dear Colleague

    Further to my letter of 3 November 2014 in relation to the forthcoming industrial action by UCU, I am now writing to advise you of the University’s policy with regard to employees who take or are contemplating taking part in industrial action from Thursday 6 November 2014.

    The University is committed to ensuring that any impact on our students is minimised and that they experience as little disruption to their learning experience and progression as possible. The Senior Management Team is already planning how we will manage this with the University’s Executive Board.

    As I indicated in my letter of 3 November 2014, the University rejects the partial performance of the contract of employment of any member of staff. This means that if you were to decide to take part in strike action or the currently notified continuous action short of a strike by refusing to carry out duties associated with assessment and marking and did not fulfil all the requirements of your contract, you would consequently not be entitled to your contractual pay from the date when you start to participate in the action.

    The University regards this action, called by UCU, as going to the heart of the contract of employment for staff involved in student learning and teaching and that it would therefore affect the fundamental duties of such staff. Student feedback on their learning is crucial to their learning experience and fundamental to the role of the University and its staff. In particular, we consider that this action will have the following impact on the University: internal or external assessment/marking deadlines not being met and students being unable to complete or move to the next stage of their course.

    For these reasons, we consider the action as having an immediate and very serious adverse effect on our students and the reputation of our University. Where a full time member of staff chooses to take this action, the breach of contract will lead the University to withhold 100% 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 until you inform your manager you have resumed your full duties.

    If you take part in the action short of a strike in the form of an assessment and marking boycott but perform the rest of your duties as normal, this would be at your discretion and the University will be under no obligation to pay you at all for any work done during the period in which you participated in this industrial action. Those services you did provide during the period, whether in the University, at home, or elsewhere, would be voluntary on your part and would not be paid.

    The Senior Management Team together with the Executive Board, will monitor and review the effect of the action on our students both locally and at an institutional level and reserves the right to decrease the level of pay withheld. Individuals choosing to take part in this action should also note that we reserve the right to join an individual member of staff as a party to any claims for damages made against the University that have arisen as a result of the non-performance of their duties, as a result of which that member of staff may be personally liable for any damages awarded in those claims.

    For those staff who choose to take part in industrial action I would ask that you:

    (a) Complete the attached proforma and either email or hand deliver it to the Human Resources Department (Room D36) in Richmond Building prior to your commencement of industrial action if you wish to maintain your pension life insurance; and

    (b) contact the person detailed below within your Faculty at the start of each week you are refusing to carry out your duties associated with marking and assessment to provide details of:

    · Your name and;
    · Your post title and;
    · Employee Number and;
    · The days within the week you will be refusing to carry out your duties associated with marking and assessment and;
    · the contracted hours you would ordinarily work for each of the days you are participating in strike…

    Please note that although the pay to be withheld for participation in the action short of a strike may relate to one or more particular month’s payroll run, it may not be possible to administer adjustments to pay by the payroll cut-off point for that month. Accordingly, the proportion of pay withheld may fall into the subsequent month.

    If you are a member of a pension scheme, UCU can advise you on the implications for your pension cover if you decide to take part in the industrial action. The University is not obliged to make employer contributions to pension during industrial action when full pay is not being paid.

    However, you should be aware that industrial action automatically suspends a member of staff’s employment contract, and accrual of pension and other benefits including death in service/life cover and ill health capacity cover.

    Therefore, if you wish to continue with your pensions contributions and ensure your death in service and incapacity benefit is maintained during the period of industrial action you must notify us in writing (via the proforma attached) of your intention to take part in the industrial action in advance of the commencement of your participation in industrial action and be prepared to fund your own employee contributions at the level of full pay. Any requests to maintain pension contributions retrospectively will not be accepted and therefore will result in suspension of pension benefits.

    Taking industrial action will inevitably impact on our students. I ask you to think of this whilst considering whether participating in industrial action is an effective way to negotiate change. You are not obliged to take part in industrial action and you have the option of working normally if you wish to do so. Strike action will not make the deficit on the pension scheme go away or change the requirement of the scheme to put in place an integrated plan to address the deficit.

    Once again, I appreciate that not all staff are members of UCU, however we do not hold information as to which staff are UCU members at the University and so I hope you will understand why it has been necessary for me to write to all staff.

    If you have any queries about this letter please contact Ruth Young, Head of Employee Relations by emailing: r.young2@bradford.ac.uk.

    Yours sincerely

    Joanne Marshall
    Director of Human Resources and OD

  3. November 7, 2014 1:20 am

    no pay no work, a full all out strike at Ulster University is required, no pain no gain, workers divided will never be united, workers united will never be divided.

    • Alan Roe permalink
      November 8, 2014 1:20 pm

      Bradford have issues a death threat? Make your own mind up:

      If you are a member of a pension scheme, UCU can advise you on the implications for your pension cover if you decide to take part in the industrial action. The University is not obliged to make employer contributions to pension during industrial action when full pay is not being paid.

      However, you should be aware that industrial action automatically suspends a member of staff’s employment contract, and accrual of pension and other benefits including death in service/life cover and ill health capacity cover.

Trackbacks

  1. Ulster University say they will be 'under no obligation' to pay those striking over pension dispute - Off The Record

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