The university has announced that they will deduct 25% of a day’s pay from those staff who “self-declare that they are undertaking ASOS, or are reported as only partially delivering against their contract”.
Action short of strike (ASOS) means that staff will be working to rule, effectively completing no more than their contracted hours. This means meeting the minimum requirement of the member of staff’s contract, whilst refusing overtime and strictly taking all breaks that they are entitled to.
After publishing their first set of guidelines earlier this week, vice-chancellor Stuart Croft clarified on Wednesday that “national discussions have made it clear that UCU is not asking its members to take ASOS if this would put them in breach of their contract. This is very important.”
The vice-chancellor also wanted to confirm that “as long as the contract is being performed there will be no deduction of pay”.
The university have established that, for those taking full strike action, there will be 100% deduction of pay. One day’s pay will be “calculated at 1/260th of an individual’s annual contractual pay”.
Gov.uk defines action short of strike and refusing to carry out part of a worker’s contract work as ‘partial performance’, thus entitling employers to deduct from staff pay packets.
Action short of strike (ASOS) means that staff will be working to rule, effectively completing no more than their contracted hours
The strikes are taking place at 61 universities across the country after universities have failed to meet demands made by the union and staff concerning the Universities Superannuation Scheme.
The suggestion that staff may receive a 25% pay deduction despite completing their contracted hours has caused anger across several media platforms.
Whilst the 25% deduction has angered a number of Warwick students and staff, some other institutions are deducting 50% for ASOS, and reserving the right to increase this deduction to 100%.
Union members and students thus far have demonstrated a great deal of support for the strike action. In the SU referenda, the ‘Warwick Students for Fair Pensions’ motion passed after gaining 944 votes in favour, with 273 against, and 53 abstentions.
The UCU has also published that 88% of UCU members who voted in their ballot backed strike action, and 93% backed action short of a strike. The turnout was 58%.
At the University of Warwick, these figures were even higher with 91% in favour of strike action, and 95% in favour of action short of strike. At Warwick there was a 57% turnout.
Warwick SU recently issued a statement reflecting upon student support within the university, commenting that: “Warwick SU has a proud history of student-staff solidarity, and we offer our full support to UCU members striking against the disastrous reforms to the USS pension scheme.”
Staff don’t want to be striking – they want to be teaching, researching and supporting our education
“Staff don’t want to be striking – they want to be teaching, researching and supporting our education – but they have been given no other choice. The strikes can and will end if UUK do the right thing and withdraw their appalling reforms.”
However, according to a recent Times Higher Education (THE) survey, a poll inquiring student support for strikes has been “divided” between “widespread sympathy for academics’ plight alongside concern about disruption to courses”.
Amongst the 1,556 undergaduates and postgraduates asked at 84 universities, support for strike did not appear as overhwleming as Warwick’s referenda results, with 38.4% of respondents in favour and 38.4% opposing. The rest were undecided.
According to THE, when students were asked who to blame for the strike, many held the government, university or university vice-chancellor responsible, with only 5% criticising the union.
While outrage has arisen over deduction of staff pay, students as well have been petitioning for refunded tuition fees to cover the days lost to the strikes. At the University of York, one petition had attracted more than 2,000 signatures by the start of this week.
This petition calls on the universities involved in the strikes to sufficiently reimburse students for any contact hours that they miss due to strike action
At Warwick, there is currently a petition being led by students with the following explanation: “This petition calls on the universities involved in the strikes to sufficiently reimburse students for any contact hours that they miss due to strike action. This is coming at a particularly difficult time in the academic calendar, with many students commencing their assessed essays or preparing for exams.
“It is wholly unacceptable that universities may not provide the teaching resources and contact hours they are contractually obliged to, while still taking our tuition fees in full.
“While the amount or type of compensation is up for debate, this petition seeks to establish the principle that compensation is due to students who through no fault of their own shall not receive teaching time that they will still have to pay for.”
You can share your opinion on the strikes with the Boar‘s online survey here.