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Nottingham Trent University boss threatening to dock staff pay earns more than double the prime minister

20 January 2014

The vice-chancellor of Nottingham Trent University (NTU), who is threatening to dock a full day's pay from staff who are on strike for two hours on Thursday, received an annual 6.5% pay increase to take his salary up to £321,000.

Professor Neil Gorman is one of the best paid vice-chancellors in the country. His pay went up by £21,000 between 2011/2012 and 2012/13 and he earns more than double the prime minister. In contrast, 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. 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.

Nottingham Trent 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 De Montfort 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 a vice-chancellor on more than £300,000 a year is trying to dock the pay of staff who have already suffered years of real-terms pay cuts.

"Instead of threatening and bullying their own staff, the university should consider the damage unfairly docking staff pay would do to its reputation, which is certainly not being helped by massive salaries at the top and real-terms pay cuts for everyone else.

"If Nottingham Trent 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, the university will face legal action from us as we seek to recover the money docked from our members' pay.

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

The email from management to staff

From: NTU Corporate HR
Sent: 16 January 2014 14:25
To: NTU Academics
Subject: Important Information: Further Strike Action by UCU

Dear Colleague

Further Strike Action By UCU

Yesterday the University received formal notification from the UCU that it has asked its' [sic]members to take strike action in the form of 3, two hour strikes on the following dates and times:

Thursday 23 January, 11.00 - 13.00

Tuesday 28 January, 14.00 - 16.00

Monday 10 February, 09.00 - 11.00

All academic members of staff are being contacted regarding this as the University does not know which staff are members of a trade union.

The University's position with regard to UCU's strike action is as follows:

In contractual terms, strike action of less than a day amounts to partial performance of the contract of employment and therefore, the same principles apply in terms of withholding pay as for any other forms of partial performance. The University's position on this is that it is entitled to reject partial performance in the form of a part-day strike and withhold pay for the entire day, in lieu of damages for breach of contract

Additionally, unless staff perform their contract in full, they will not be required to perform any duties at all (on that day) and will not be entitled to any pay for the day. Should staff chose to take strike action at the stated times but then undertake partial work during the day in question, that work will be viewed as voluntary and will not be paid for.

If you are not a member of the UCU, apologies are given for having to inform you of the above.

Corporate Human Resources Team

Last updated: 10 December 2015