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UCU warns university to expect legal action to recover docked pay and face escalated industrial action

20 January 2014

The vice-chancellor of De Montfort University (DMU), who is threatening to dock a full day's pay from staff who take two hours' strike on Thursday, received a whopping 11.5% increase in his pay and pension package between 2011/12 and 2012/13, revealed UCU today.

Professor Dominic Shellard saw his package increase by £26,000 to £249,000 in 2012/13. University staff have seen their pay drop by 13% in real terms in the past five years. They are currently locked in an increasingly bitter row over pay after they rejected a 1% pay offer this year.

Staff took two days' strike action last year and will be staging the first of a series of two hour stoppages between 11am and 1pm on Thursday. UCU has written to the vice-chancellor and warned that if the university follows through with its threat then the union will immediately instruct its lawyers to take legal action to challenge the pay docking.

DMU is one of just three English universities threatening to dock a full day's pay from staff who walk out for two hours on Thursday. The others are the University of Chester and Nottingham Trent University.

Last week student groups described the 1% pay offer as 'measly' and called for a quick resolution to the dispute. UCU said it had no interest in damaging anyone's education and called on the employers to come back to the negotiating table with a fair pay offer. Lecturers' positions have hardened in recent weeks following a glut of embarrassing stories about vice-chancellors' pay.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'This is an attempt to bully staff out of taking legitimate industrial action. It is quite staggering that the man who heads the institution pocketed an 11.5% pay rise while staff pay continues to be suppressed.

'Instead of threatening and bullying their own staff, the university's managers should think of the damage unfairly docking staff pay would do to its reputation, which is certainly not being helped by embarrassing revelations of fat cat pay at the top and real-terms pay cuts for everyone else.

'If De Montfort University really wants to take this unprecedented and highly confrontational approach then we will fight it. As well as risking pariah status and damage to its reputation, DMU will face legal action from us as we seek to recover the money docked from our members' pay.

'Any kind of disruption is always a last resort but, after five years of pay suppression with members 13% worse off in real terms, we want a fair deal.'

Universities across the UK will face disruption in the form of a series of two-hour strikes from next week if the increasingly fractious dispute over pay is not resolved. The first three two-hour stoppages will take place at these times:

Thursday 23 January 11am-1pm

Tuesday 28 January 2pm-4pm

Monday 10 February 9am-11am

Last updated: 10 December 2015