UCU calls on Home Secretary to address academics' immigration concerns

16 March 2018 | last updated: 19 March 2018

Update 19 March: Ernesto and Arely have now been given indefinite leave to remain.

UCU has written to Home Secretary Amber Rudd asking for clarification on the right to strike for international staff and for an urgent review of the immigration status of Durham academics Ernesto Schwartz-Marín and Arely Cruz Santiago.

The letter highlights concerns raised by international staff currently on strike over pension changes. Many of them fear that engaging in the union's strike action could jeopardise their employer sponsorship because of current limits on unauthorised absence for staff on Tier 2 visas. The union says that the right to strike is enshrined in European law and has asked the government to provide written reassurance to affected staff.

UCU has also called on the Home Secretary to urgently review the case of Durham academics Ernesto Schwartz-Marín and Arely Cruz Santiago, who have been refused indefinite leave to remain because of time spent abroad for research. The letter says that flexibility is needed to ensure that university researchers can complete their work without putting their immigration status at risk.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: 'It is absolutely unacceptable that staff engaging in lawful strike action or legitimate research should be made to fear for their immigration status. International staff make a vital contribution to our universities and we need urgent clarity from the government to address these concerns.'

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