University staff row hots up

Row: UCLan vice chancellor Prof Gerry Kelleher has written to staff
Row: UCLan vice chancellor Prof Gerry Kelleher has written to staff
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A national union is threatening to take legal action against university bosses as a row over pay escalates.

The University of Central Lancashire has warned staff who take part in a series of two-hour strikes that they face losing a day’s pay each time they walk out.

The University College Union, (UCU) has called three two-hour national strikes in support of its pay claim. The first took place yesterday between 11am and 1pm, another in a planned for January 28 from 2pm - 4pm and between 9am - 11 am in Monday February 10.

UCLan Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerry Kelleher wrote to all members of staff asking for details on members planning to take part in the strike, because he said the institution needed to ensure there was cover for lectures.

He also warned staff that industrial action breached their contracts of employment and staff taking part in the walk out would lose a day’s pay each time.

Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary said members were “very angry”.

In a letter to staff she said: “UCU’s legal advice is that a two hour strike should lead to the deduction of two hours pay- no more or less

Our clearly defined strike does not constitute partial performance as suggested by the university nor is it action short of a strike: it is in face a complete withdrawal of labour for the duration of a legally convened strike.”

She added that if the university “goes through with its threat we will immediately challenge their action through the courts.”

The union also warned the union would launch a national campaign to raise public awareness of the university’s attitude.

A spokesman for UCLan said pay scales in higher education are set at a national level and UCLan has no involvement in the pay discussions. He added the university was determined to minimise the strike’s impact and said: “From a time tabling point of view a two-hour strike is actually more disruptive than a full day because it makes it very difficult for the university to manage disruption for classes that overlap with a two-hour strike window.

“In our view it is unacceptable for industrial action to commence halfway through a time tabled lecture or for disruption to occur midway through an exam.

“We would reiterate; our overriding aim is to ensure our students are not disadvantaged by this action. Maintaining and enhancing the overall student experience remains our priority and we will act accordingly.”