Text from branch treasurer Jonathan Saha’s email to members, updated with latest information
With increased pension contributions, a below-inflation pay offer, systemic pay inequality, rampant casualisation, and escalating workloads, our current disputes are vital in our fight to preserve the value of our labour and to defend the rights of all staff employed the higher education sector. Strike action has become necessary to win significant improvements in pay, conditions and the security of employment, as well as to save our pensions.
The impact of taking strike action is not equally felt by all members, and some may be hit hard by withdrawing their labour. For staff who are paid a monthly salary this impact will not be felt until the new year, as University of Leeds senior management have confirmed that pay deductions for the 8 days planned strike action will come out in January. For hourly paid staff, the impact may be more immediate. At the last meeting of Senate, members of the UCU successfully spearheaded a motion calling on senior management to spread deductions over a number of months. We urge them to comply with Senate’s decision. You will be deducted a day’s pay for every day you strike, calculated at 1/365 of your annual salary for full time staff, and pro rata for part time staff. If you are hourly paid you lose the payment for the hours you don’t work. Senior management are also threatening to make punitive deductions for “partial performance”, which could amount to double-docking salary as staff would be deducted first for striking and then again for not rescheduling the disrupted work.
For those facing financial vulnerability due to pay deductions, the union can provide the following support:
- UCU’s UK-wide Fighting Fund can support members at the following rates: up to £75 for the second and subsequent days of strike action for members earning below £30,000 gross per annum; and up to £50 for the third and subsequent days of strike action for members earning above £30,000 gross per annum. You will not be able to claim more than you would have otherwise earned. As the fund is finite, claims may be subject to further limits. Members can apply to the UK-wide Fighting Fund here: https://ucu.custhelp.com/app/fighting_fund/. You will not be able to claim until the pay deductions have been made from your salary. See the full guidance about applying to the Fighting Fund.
- The Local Branch has a healthy Hardship Fund, the rules for which will be agreed at the General Meeting to be held after picketing on Tuesday 3 December at the Quaker Meeting house. We will be holding surgeries during the strike to help people complete the application form, which will be advertised in due course. The local hardship fund will prioritise: members in precarious, low paid work; international members who have to continue repaying visa loans to the university; members who can demonstrate that their contractual and/or financial status means that they would be disproportionately impacted by strike deductions; and the strike days not covered by the UK-wide Fighting Fund. You will not be able to claim more than you would have otherwise earned, including what you may have received from the UK-wide Fighting Fund. You will not be able to claim until you have the payslips or other evidence to prove you took strike action and how much pay you were deducted. All claims should be submitted within three months of the deductions being made, and we will endeavour to make payments as quickly as possible.
- In order to be able to claim from these funds, you need to make sure that you are in the right subscription category for your salary and membership status. We’d recommend checking, as it’s easy to forget to update the union about salary changes. To check or update your membership details, log in to myUCU at https://ucu.org.uk/myucu. If you haven’t used myUCU previously you will need to register first, which is very straightforward (note: you don’t pay by Direct Debit).
For those of you who are able to, you can donate to the UK-wide Fighting Fund here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/fightingfund. Donations to the Local Hardship Fund can be made by direct bank transfer to: UCU Leeds LA29 (Hardship Fund), Unity Trust Bank, Account Number: 20391511, Sort Code: 60-83-01. The local branch will also be organising fundraising events – watch this space! – and if you would like to organise something yourself or ask an organisation you are part of for a donation, that would be very welcome.
This support will materially mitigate the impact of taking strike action for financially precarious members, and through this strengthen our collective resolve.
Treasurer Leeds UCU