We are the University for the Common Good. Management needs to reconsider its position on pay deductions

It’s the role of the Trade Unions to speak for, defend, and act for staff at GCU. Management manage the operation of the university, under the strategic eye of the University Court. Peoples Services (HR) are expected to help smooth relationships between both sides if necessary.

Relationships here were certainly not always smooth – for a period over ten years ago, they were at rock bottom and even as recently as 2014 a major row emerged over GCU co-hosting an event with the then Tory Prime Minister David Cameron who used the event to intervene in the 2014 referendum issue.

As this situation was not a productive way to work, the Trade Unions and management brought in Nita Clarke a mediator who had worked with the Trade Union movement and others. After a long discussion we agreed a joint ‘no-surprises’ policy, essentially which recognised both sides might sometimes have fundamental differences (which might remain) but we should work in a transparent way which involved ‘no grandstanding’ and ‘no surprises’ from either side.

This has meant that in practice no intended major position, or statement directly affecting trade union members should be officially released without informing the campus trade unions first (allowing discussion).

This has helped us work in a principled way – not always agreeing of course, but with mutual understanding and respect.

Thus we have previously discussed and managed to come to agreements on staggering deductions following strike actions for instance.

Today (Friday 3rd February), without discussion, all staff received a statement from the Head of Peoples Services, indication the intention to deduct all strike day pay in the month of the action. If implemented this would lead for instance, to UCU members losing 10 days pay in March, with some Unison members losing 5 and EIS members losing 4. We believe this is co-ordinated at a UK level (although several Universities such as Sussex have announced they are staggering deductions).

This certainly feels like an attempt to punish strikers for carrying out a perfectly legal right to strike, and is certainly not in line with the sentiments of a university for the Common Good.

We are therefore asking the university to think again.

Below you will find correspondence from UCU, EIS and Unison to Peoples Services regarding this.

From UCU:

I’m extremely disappointed to read your all staff email, on two counts.

Firstly, that no contact was made with the campus union reps to discuss the proposed schedule for pay deductions (as has happened previously), nor advance notice given to union reps of this email.

Secondly, that implementing deductions according to this schedule will plunge GCU staff – who are, I remind you, participating in lawful industrial action in a protest for fair and decent pay, in the midst of an unprecedented cost of living crisis – into even greater financial hardship, quite unnecessarily. This hardly seems consistent with the university mission for the common good, and certainly runs counter to the very empathetic messaging from our new Principal on the causes of the current dispute.

I would appreciate a meeting to discuss this, along with the other campus union reps, at the earliest opportunity.


UCU@GCU Branch President

From EIS:

I would echo Catriona’s remarks and also observe that given the monthly  deadline for payroll and the legal position that union members do not have to notify their intention to take strike action you will be guessing whether staff members are taking industrial action or not?  I am not sure how this will be possible?  

Nick McKerrell

President EIS@GCU

From Unison:

Can I raise again the fact the the term time only members of staff have had too much deducted from their salary this month – I have emailed you separately but have not received a response.

Kind regards,

Davena Rankin

President Unison@GCU

We have not yet received a response regarding any of the above, but will keep members, all staff, and the public informed about the university’s position

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