Education & Family

University strike: Give docked pay to student hardship funds, union says

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Any money universities saved by docking wages of lecturers who went on strike last week should be given to student hardship funds, a union says.

Sally Hunt, head of the University and College Union (UCU), said in a speech "every penny" should be donated.

Last week, union members took action over a 1.1% pay rise offered by universities, calling it "an insult".

The Universities and Colleges Employers' Association (UCEA) said students faced no major disruption.

Speaking at the UCU annual conference in Liverpool, Ms Hunt said: "Vice-chancellors and principals are so busy defending their own exorbitant pay that they have forgotten that universities and colleges are nothing without students and staff.

"Not so long ago, most institutions would give money docked from striking staff to their student hardship funds - these days it is far less likely.

"Therefore, today I am calling on all vice-chancellors and principals to do the right thing and commit every penny they took from our members for striking last week to their student hardship funds."

'Generous'

The UCU says the two-day strike over a 1.1% pay rise for academic staff comes as vice-chancellors enjoy high salaries.

But UCEA said the offer to staff was generous when compared with that of public sector workers, such as those working in local government and the prison service, who received a rise of 1%.

A spokesman said: "Higher education institutions are reporting either no or low disruption on either of UCU's two strike days on 25 and 26 May.

"It is therefore not surprising that the number of UCU members actually declaring themselves to have been on strike appears to be very low, with the early reports averaging at less than 45 per institution.

"It is up to each institution to decide what they will do with pay withheld from those who did strike, though we know many have policies for making a donation to their student hardship fund or, for example, to support onsite nursery provision."

According to Ms Hunt, students supported the industrial action and she will thank them in her speech for their support.

She said "that this fight is their fight - and that we will support them when they defend education".

She also said the National Union of Students and UCU are planning a national demonstration in the autumn, aimed at defending education.

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