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Hourly-paid and part-time members striking

March 21, 2011

Leeds UCU will support any hourly-paid or part-time (low fraction) members who take strike action this week and who are disproportionately hit when their salary is docked for taking action on those days. Full time members will lose 1/365th per strike days, but PT and HP staff risk losing more by declaring strike days. Leeds UCU will compensate for such losses from our own funds. More details for how to apply will be forthcoming.

If you wish to contribute to the hardship fund, please contact Sue Redhead.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Tracey permalink
    March 21, 2011 2:15 PM

    In our college we are going to be docked 1/260th of our pay? are you sure it is 1/365th

  2. March 21, 2011 2:43 PM

    Yes. This is the rate we have been told at Leeds. Each institution makes its own rate, but it can’t be below 1/260th. Your institution, then, is setting the meanest rate it can.

  3. John permalink
    March 21, 2011 4:15 PM

    Or to look at it another way, 1/260 is in fact a perfectly reasonable rate.

    Docking 1/365th (while presumably maintaining your pension contributions) is more than fair, it’s ridiculously generous to the point of being slightly odd. It somewhat undermining the strike in some ways, as it’s fairly central that you’re giving up a day’s pay in the name of your grievances, and Leeds University aren’t allowing you to do that. I’d add that to your list of complaints if I were you.

  4. March 21, 2011 5:34 PM

    Do some real-world calculations John. Lecturers in effect work for free until March 9th every year – the amount of additional hours staff do over and above the notional maximum keeps Universities running on free will. This is why UCEA, the employers’ representative body, recommended to all institutions that academics should be exempt from the working time directive. If academics were protected by that legislation, Universities would grind to a halt. So, given that we work without pay until 9 March each year, then a day’s dock for striking should be significantly less than will in effect take place. To think in terms of 9 to 5 is preposterous for those who work up to 60 hours a week in term-time.

  5. John permalink
    March 21, 2011 5:54 PM

    Are you saying university employees are *not* protected by the working time directive?

    I don’t see the validity of claiming that because lecturers* work longer hours than they’re contractually obliged to, a member shouldn’t sacrifice a day’s pay when on strike. You’re saying that because lecturers work 150% of their contractual hours, they should only get 2/3rds of a day’s pay withheld for striking for a day?

    * A specific subset of your membership; this often seems to be willfully forgotten.

  6. March 21, 2011 6:17 PM

    Academic members of staff (and some others, possibly you John) are considered exempt from the working time directive – according to UCEA advice to employers, as we understand it. Yes. So the argument goes for that part of our membership (look around on our blog – we certainly do not forget the substantial membership who are academic-related).

    We are not making the argument you state there. We never did. What we are saying is that the cynical argument that 1/260th is adequate fails to recognise the economic value of staff in terms of actual wo/man hours worked.

    From Uni of Leeds documentation:
    “Exempt staff – On the basis of advice from the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) the following groups of staff are considered to be exempt from all aspects of the Regulations except the provision for annual leave:

    • All Academic Grades
    • Admin/Library/Computing/Other Related Grade 6
    • Research Grade IV”

    http://www.hr.leeds.ac.uk/policies/…/Working%20Time%20Regulations.doc

  7. John permalink
    March 21, 2011 7:19 PM

    Thanks for the pointer to the university document, I wasn’t aware of that. I may be misinterpreting the legislation, but an exemption (according to the govt pages on the legislation) seems to mean that:

    In all these cases you should average workers’ hours over 26 weeks, rather than 17 weeks, to find their average working week. They are entitled to accumulate their rest periods and take them at a later date. This is called compensatory rest.

    That’s from http://tinyurl.com/5sehkny

    What is the impact of this exemption on university employees?

    I still cannot see 1/365th as sane under any logic. I really do feel that it’s important that when you strike you give up a full day’s pay, and 1/365th cannot satisfy that requirement. Maybe that’s just me though.

  8. Striking Jim permalink
    March 21, 2011 8:14 PM

    At the end of the day, this person wants not to recognise the hard work of academic and related staff. no point arguing.

    I get the same salary every month, regardless of how many days there are in that month, how many bank holidays there are, or how many days leave I take. So, clearly, the employers considers I should get a twelfth of what I am paid to average my salary for the x number of hours I do, regardless of when I do them in reality over those months. The only fair calculation, then is 1/365th, as that represents the removal of the proportion intended to be given, approximately, for that one calendar day, just as it is for every Sunday, Christmas Day and Easter Monday. This is especially true when all the free hours I give up to my employer are borne into consideration. John is lucky enough to have a job where he starts at 9, ends at 5 and has the whole weekend off. Of course, then, he thinks in the terms he outlines.

  9. John permalink
    March 22, 2011 9:37 AM

    Actually, that’s far from an accurate characterisation, but that really doesn’t matter. If the UCU called for action short of a strike (let’s say some form of work to rule so no breach of contract) I wouldn’t expect any salary to be cut, despite the individuals cutting out work they were previously doing in their unpaid overtime. The 1/365th logic would seem to imply that you should still have wages cut since while you’re not cutting the work out during office hours, you’re nonetheless no longer doing work you were previously doing.

    We clearly disagree on this point and that’s fine. I guess I just object to categorising an employer as ‘mean’ for cutting your wages in a legal manner in response to a strike. It’d be much simpler if these amounts were defined so there was no argument.

  10. Chris permalink
    March 22, 2011 9:43 AM

    Jim, your argument there seems to say that a PT member of staff only working 4 out of the 5 days in the “official working week” should only be docked 1/7th of the salary. In reality this would be a 20% cut and we all know that that wouldn’t really mean a 20% reduction in the work they have to do. They also don’t get the pension contributions being made up as will be the case for today’s action. Maybe I should just take on a job where I work weekends where the university is closed!

    Also, you seem to be proposing that the university should only payfor the number of days in a working month. I would imagine most members would find such a scenario very hard to budget with. Would you like your early Christmas pay packet reduced by the number of days that it is paid early?

  11. An academic permalink
    March 22, 2011 5:11 PM

    Well done UCU for once again protecting our part-time and hourly-paid colleagues as they take legitimate strike action!

  12. Mark permalink
    March 23, 2011 11:31 AM

    Well done on the Strike action. I am a member of Unison who seem to have no idea of solidarity whatsoever. It felt very odd crossing a picket line for the first time in my life but the official pickets were very understanding at my predicament.

    Just a quick note, the flyers that were handed out detailing the reasons for strike action and mentioned a rally at 13:00 at the main entrance. I came out at lunch time for this but found out I had missed it since it started earlier (12.30 I hear). Crossed wires I suppose. Anyway, I hope it went well and I’ll be joining you on Saturday in London.

  13. March 23, 2011 12:44 PM

    We just want to add – we have had supportive comments and gestures from Unison and Unite.

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