‘Don’t penalise strikers’ call to universities - Liam Friel

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A Derry trade unionist has said workers who go on strike should not be unduly penalised by their employers.

Liam Friel made the comment after it emerged that members of the University and College Union (UCU) who are planning a two hour work stoppage at the University of Ulster and Queens University, Belfast, will lose a full day of pay.

Mr Friel, who is standing as a Sinn Féin candidate in the upcoming local government elections, said the move is an attempt to penalise workers.

“The statement by the University of Ulster and Queens that they will deduct a full day’s pay for UCU members who embark on a two hour strike is I believe, an attempt to penalise union members over their right to strike,” he said.

UCU members at the University of Ulster and Queens have been taking part in a series of two hour strikes in recent weeks.

Strike action was held on January 23 and January 28 and a further two-hour stoppage is planned for Monday, February 10.

Mr Friel said the workers have a legitimate right to take industrial action and should not be punished financially.

“The strike which is organised to highlight the low wage increase of 1% offered to their members is a legitimate action organised through the union,” he said.

“People who participate in the strike realise that the two hour stoppage will be unpaid but the threat by the Universities to deduct a full days pay is vindictive and does nothing to resolve the issue,” he said.

The Sinn Féin candidate called on both universities to reconsider the move and open fresh discussions with the University and College Union.

He continued: “People have a right to be paid for work carried out.

“I am calling on the universities to remove the threat of deduction and negotiate with the Union so that normal service can be resumed at our universities,” he said.