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University of Kent 'to withhold 100%' of employees' pay if they strike

The University of Kent has been accused of bullying as it threatens “to withhold 100%” of lecturers’ pay if they take part in strikes this week.

Staff members have been warned they will not be paid if they join the industrial action on Thursday, leaving many "incandescent with rage".

An internal message to employees, which has been seen by KentOnline, confirms the institution will withhold all pay to those taking part in the walkouts.

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The walkouts will begin with five days of strikes on Thursday February 22
The walkouts will begin with five days of strikes on Thursday February 22

It also says the university will “deduct 50%” of workers' wages “for a single day” if they fail to reschedule any classes they cancel during the strikes.

Sian Lewis-Anthony, the president of the Kent branch of the University College Union (UCU), says the university’s uncompromising stance has left her colleagues “incandescent with rage”.

“There’s going to be a critical mass that will be furious and regard this as bullying,” she said.

“The university is also threatening to withhold payment from graduate teaching assistants.

“They usually juggle their own research with 96 hours of work for the university each year and are being threatened with having their pay deducted for every hour they don’t work.”

Spread over a month, the walkouts will begin with five days of strikes starting on Thursday, February 22.

About 88% of the union’s Kent members supported the walkouts, with a turnout of 57%.

Ms Lewis-Anthony added: “I’m worried about younger colleagues who are either just starting their careers or who are thinking of starting one in academia.

“They’re being clobbered by student loans, which are unbearable if you have three degrees beforehand; precarious contracts which pay a pittance; and this pension system.

"There's going to be a critical mass that will be furious and regard this as bullying" - Sian Lewis-Anthony

“The university spends millions on buildings, it has had a net increase in income from student fees and yet it chooses not to spend it on staff.”

A University of Kent spokesman said: “The university has a long held position that it will not accept the partial performance of the contract of any member of staff and this current dispute is no different.

“This means that anyone who decides to take part in strike action, or action short of a strike will not be entitled to their full contractual pay from the date when they start to participate in the action.”

Walkouts are also planned for four days from Monday, March 5, and for the whole of the following week.

Kent is one of 64 institutions across the UK where staff are due to take part in the industrial action, including Oxford and Cambridge.


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