Published: 14th March, 2018
Our branch negotiating team met with members of ULT today in order to discuss operational matters related to the current industrial action. It was a cordial and productive meeting in which we were able to find many points of agreement. I am delighted to report the extremely welcome outcomes of that meeting.
University of Leicester has agreed to deduct strike pay at a rate of 2 days per month (so, over 7 months for the about-to-be-concluded period of striking). The same rate will be applied to the second 14-day round of strikes in this dispute, assuming it goes ahead. Whilst there have been other instances of staggered deduction agreements in other universities, we are not aware of any that are less punitive than this, which puts UoL well ahead of the curve. We are sure that our members will agree that this is a significant step towards mending trust between we and our employer.
In addition to this, UoL has agreed to set up an interest free hardship loan and/or flexible deduction process for staff who are severely impacted by the 2 day per month deduction arrangement. Members who feel that they are in this position should in the first instance contact their departmental HR representatives.
In the course of our discussion we also revisited some previous disputes. Members may recall that we took 3 days of strike action in 2016 – and 2014 was the year of the (much maligned) 2 hour strikes. UCU has long contended that strike pay was over-deducted during these disputes, having been calculated in the basis of one 260th of our wages per day of striking as opposed to one 365th – the latter now having been established through the courts the proper approach. Our employer has agreed that the over-deducted of strike pay from 2016 will be repaid. Discussions about the over-deduction 2014 are ongoing.
In exchange for these concessions we have agreed to encourage our members to report that they took strike action using the HR department’s preferred online form method and to begin to do this from Monday of next week when we’re back at work.
Additionally we have agreed to advise our members to engage constructively with managers around work during the ASOS period. We would stress that it remains our position that no-one should be performing any tasks for which they are not being paid or any tasks which fall outside their contractual obligations during that period but that decisions about what work to prioritise would come under the category of a ‘reasonable management instruction’. This may include carrying out work that would normally have taken place during the strike but only if members are relieved of equivalent work in order to be able to fulfill obligations without working extra hours. We have stressed that discussions about the reallocation of work should be transparent and involve collective meetings within departments.
We are of course still in dispute and significant differences remain between our members and our employer. However, those officers present were extremely heartened by the conciliatory tone of the meeting and are hopeful about the future.