For the upcoming USS dispute, the Newcastle University UCU branch has created a local hardship fund specifically aimed at assisting hourly paid / casual staff losing income due to strike action.
This document sets out the policies and procedures that will be implemented for claiming money from the hardship fund.
1. Anyone claiming assistance through the hardship fund must be a member of the UCU.
2. Anyone claiming assistance through the hardship fund must have taken strike action.
3. Anyone claiming assistance through the hardship fund must not have claimed from the national fund for the same period (i.e. ‘double claiming’ for the loss of earnings)
4. All payments will be made by BACS. This is a condition of our bank and cannot be changed by the branch – Cash cannot be issued.
5. All claims will be assessed by a hardship fund committee to ensure compliance with national guidelines.
We recognise that members will require monies paid into their accounts as close as possible to regular pay dates in order to prevent financial distress. Therefore, the following procedures have been implemented to make this as easy as possible:
1. Evidence of loss of earnings
We cannot expect hourly paid staff to wait until their payslips show a deduction of earnings, as this will delay payment unnecessarily. Therefore, we propose the following:
• Evidence for the strike dates should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
• This will then be implemented for the payment date in December
• Evidence can include:
o A copy of the email sent by HR confirming notification of strike action.
o If this wasn’t sent, a signed letter by a UCU Rep in your School, Department, or Faculty confirming that you did not work on the strike day, as well as a copy of your contract, timetable or letter of appointment.
o For staff utilising the new app, a screenshot of your allocated hours should accompany the signed letter.
• Members who receive regular payslips each month must send these to email@example.com on the day that the payslip becomes available showing deductions. This ensures that the branch is compliant with all auditing procedures.
2. Loss of all earnings in one day
As hourly-paid staff, it is common that an entire teaching load – and therefore all earnings – occur in a single day. The hardship fund states that claims can be made for up to £75 per day of strike action, to a maximum of £500 across the strike.
£75 per day will not represent only the days that you teach, but the days in which the strike occurs.
Therefore, if you lose £150 for all classes taught on a Friday, and this represents 100% of your anticipated income, this will be disaggregated over 2 days of strike action based on the hardship being claimed.
3. Variations in contract type
A clear problem that has arisen throughout our anti-casualisation campaign is that there are multiple types of contract being utilised across the university. If you feel that your contract is not covered in the policies and procedures outlined above, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your query.
4. Task based work completed outwith the strike
Many staff on hourly paid contracts will have task work allocated over a number of weeks. E.G., marking work may be disaggregated over three weeks, although you might complete it all in a shorter period.
Our advice on this matter is: if you have completed tasks that are allocated on your workload, particularly through the app system, you should claim for your hours as normal. It doesn’t matter if the app records that you have completed these tasks during industrial action – the work has been completed outwith the strike and you’re entitled to payment for this work.
If you are in a situation where your tasks have been re-allocated (e.g. the module leader is not on strike and chooses to complete the marking themselves), this will fall under lost earnings and is therefore eligible for payment from the hardship fund. We will require a screenshot of your workload allocation from the app, along with a signed letter from a local rep.
5. National Fund
If your loss of earnings will not lead to personal hardship (e.g. you have savings, other earnings, a partner in work, etc), please utilise the national UCU strike pay facility (seehttps://ucu.custhelp.com/app/fighting_fund/) This will allow the local hardship fund to prioritise those with most need for urgent payment.
The branch might ask (retrospectively and only if necessary) for documents that enable the hardship committee to properly quantify the losses incurred by staff. This will be communicated in writing at a date following the conclusion of action.