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Taking action in higher education

Lecturers to receive over £1million back pay

19 October 2007 | last updated: 14 December 2015

Twenty-two Northern Ireland college lecturers have begun to receive back pay of between £8,000 and £22,000 after an industrial tribunal ruled that they had been wrongly underpaid for five years.

Around 70 others who were not properly paid are likely to also receive payments expected to take the grand total to over £1.6 million.

UCU fought the lecturers' case, instructing Thompson's solicitors to act for the affected members. The final stage of the industrial tribunal process, resolving the payments, has just ended.

UCU acted swiftly when the underpayments became clear after several further education colleges failed to place newly appointed lecturers on the appropriate point of a new salary scale. UCU's regional official in Northern Ireland, Jim McKeown, helped affected union members to take the matter to industrial tribunals claiming 'unlawful deduction' of wages. Twenty two lecturers decided to challenge the employers.

UCU official for Northern Ireland Jim McKeown said: 'Northern Ireland college employers were told repeatedly they were wrong for not paying proper salary from September 2001.

'To add insult to injury, for some staff the back-payments now being paid are being taxed at the top rate of income tax so those staff are still losing out.

'The employers used taxpayers' money to pay the legal fees which undoubtedly amount to several thousands* of pounds to try to defend what was indefensible. Their actions were completely wrong yet it is the taxpayer who foot the bill. The real culprits in this affair have escaped scot free.'

* UCU is to ask how much the employers' legal costs were by using the Freedom of Information Act.

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