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Staff to strike at University of Westminster over four year pay deal row

10 November 2009 | last updated: 11 December 2015

Members of the UCU will be taking strike action at the University of Westminster on 13 November in a row over four years' pay.

The union said that its members had little choice but to take the action after the university became the only one in the UK to impose an overdue package of terms and conditions, and to refuse to pay back pay owed to staff.
 
The union had delayed previous plans to strike to try and reach a resolution with the university. However, no progress has been made in those talks and the union says it has been left with no alternative but to take strike action.
 
The University of Westminster is the only institution in the UK that has failed to deliver a clear agreement on back pay. The original deal, called the Framework Agreement, was thrashed out nationally in 2004 and signed up to by Westminster's then-vice-chancellor, Geoffrey Copeland.
 
The union said that despite five years of negotiations it has proved impossible to implement the deal because of the university's constant attacks on staff working conditions, which have seen union recognition attacked, grading structures altered, some grades abolished and appeals processes watered down.
 
The closest the two sides came to a deal was in October 2007, but the university walked away from a near-final agreement. Despite the union's best efforts to resurrect a deal palatable to both sides, the university walked away from talks in February this year and in June it wrote to all staff to tell them it would be imposing the Framework Agreement, but would not be paying the money owed in back pay. A majority of academic staff refused the university's offer.
 
The union said it was disappointed that the university had now tried to bring students into the row and also deliberately misrepresented the union's position. The union has not walked away from negotiations and is actively seeking further talks to resolve the situation and ensure no further disruptions.
 
UCU Westminster branch representative, Maria Chondrogianni said: 'We have been left with little choice but to take strike action on Friday. The University of Westminster is the only institution that has failed to deliver the back pay from the national Framework Agreement, and it has no right to hold this money back from our members.
 
'It is wrong to say we have walked away from talks. We are trying to arrange further talks to resolve the issue and ensure no disruption. We are also disappointed that the university has attempted to bring students into the row. The students are the innocent victims of the university's failure to honour the deal.
 
'As the University of Westminster is the only institution to impose the deal without stumping up the back pay it owes its staff, it could have made an effort to come up with a more individual line of attack than bringing students into the row. Tired divide and rule tactics help nobody at the university.'

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