UEA students’ union & the Defend Education UEA campaign have a number of events over the next few weeks:
January 21st 6.30pm – discussion on free education
January 28th 5.00-9.00pm – UEA World Café – campaign workshops & stalls
January 31st – March for free education
UCU at UEA EGM 19/11/14 Resolution
UEA UCU notes that the senior management team’s response to the assessment boycott called for 6th November and continuing has been to threaten to deduct 100% pay on grounds that it does not accept partial performance of contracts.
We note too, the letter signed by over 100 academics – both UCU members and not – condemning the university’s stance and we note the letter published in this week’s Times Higher Education in a similar vein, signed by thirty or so academics at other universities but who have contact or collaborations with colleagues at UEA.
This union believes the University’s response to be disproportionate and aggressive, and likely both to damage relationships with staff (in the long and short term) and to harm recruitment. It is a clear rejection of the collaborative “do different” ideals on which UEA was founded 50 years ago. It fails both to respect the sincerely held views of staff about the merits of the dispute and the genuine worries staff have for the long term viability of their own pensions, and to take any account of the hard work above and beyond that all colleagues provide – to students, to other staff. Last, it is incredibly poor and short sighted industrial relations practice; the fact that deducting 100% pay might be lawful – which this union does not accept – does not mean that employers should deduct the totality of wages. The Senior Management Team says that it is “with profound regret that we find ourselves in a situation where we have to take that stance” but has never explained why it has to. The vast majority of other universities are deducting a much smaller proportion.
We also note that the University has accepted uncritically the explanations, figures and projections provided by USS and the Employers’ Pension Forum when there is a good deal of counter-evidence to the contrary on both the size of the deficit and how best to tackle it from reputable economists and statisticians. There is not a “one-size” fits all approach from university employers – several pre-1992 Russell Group institutions, namely Warwick, Oxford, Cambridge have taken stances significantly at odds with taken by UEA.
This union calls for the University of East Anglia to:
- Pay back any pay deducted since 6th November 2014;
- Show a commitment to work with the union to establish a more balanced policy on deductions for industrial action short of a strike, that better takes account of not only the university’s legitimate interests, but the interests of its staff to take lawful action without punitive disproportionate threat of penalty;
- Show a commitment from the senior management team that they are making representations to the employers’ national negotiators that they want them to engage in a constructive dialogue in good faith with the UCU national negotiators based around all sets of figures, data and projections;
- Open up communications with its own staff – UCU members and non-members alike – affected by the proposed changes to understand the views and to investigate these issues further at local level.
If the senior management does not withdraw its threat to deduct 100% of pay of anyone taking part in action short of a strike in this current dispute, this union will, as a first step, call on UCU nationally to authorise the grey-listing of UEA. If the senior management carries out its threat to victimise people taking part in action short of a strike and withholds their pay indefinitely, this union will regard this as an escalation on the part of management and will respond proportionately. Our responses may include, but may not be limited to, withdrawal of any co-operation not specified in our contracts, and/or calling on UCU nationally to authorise strike action.