Dear Professor Richardson,
Staff involved in the current industrial action, as you know, take this action as a last resort and in the knowledge that collective action involves personal sacrifice, including financial hardship. UEA has not yet formally indicated when deductions from salaries will be imposed and this is causing unnecessary additional stress for many UCU members, particularly at this time of year.
Universities are able to choose how to implement the deduction of pay. UEA has already set a welcome precedent during the last industrial action over USS pensions, when the loss of salary was phased over three months. A growing number of universities have confirmed they will be spreading deductions over two or three months this time too, including the University of Cambridge, St Andrews University, the University of Aberdeen, the University of Durham, the University of Essex, Royal Holloway, the University of Sheffield and City UoL.
Single-month deductions would hit the lowest paid and most precarious members of staff the hardest. We see this as a form of indirect discrimination, particularly disadvantaging those with a protected characteristic, those with caring responsibilities and those on part-time and/or non-permanent contracts. Beginning the deductions in December also places unnecessary stress on administrative staff who have to deal with the issue, and contradicts the wellbeing initiatives the university has prioritised over the past years.
We call on the Executive Team to confirm as quickly as possible that salary deductions will be spread over three months. This is an important step in the process of rebuilding trust and more positive employee-employer relationships following the strike action, and a way of showing UEA to be one of the better employers in the sector. In the season of goodwill, this gesture would also be a timely and effective demonstration of commitment to staff wellbeing, which the University has made a priority with a promise to ‘Do different’.
The UEA UCU Committee