From education to employment

Argument over pay scale has left colleges with back-payment

An Industrial Tribunal has ruled that Northern Ireland’s college lecturers be awarded over £1 million in back payments.

Over 70 lecturers at further education colleges have been receiving incorrect pay since 1st September 2001. The employers failed to implement the agreement claiming it was only effective from 2002.

Individual cases relating to unlawful deductions from salary are now due to proceed, and the University and College Union will be assisting applicants to ensure that their placement on the salary scale will be recalculated and backdated to 1st September 2001. For some individuals the sums involved will be upwards of £20,000.

Regional Official of the UCU Jim McKeown, who has been negotiating on behalf of college lecturers, said: “We never had any doubt as to the outcome of this hearing. The evidence was crystal clear that the employers had agreed to the introduction of a new salary scale from 1st September 2001. They tried to claim that the words on the agreement were a “clerical error” but the Tribunal threw out that argument”.

“The employers were wrong and now they will have to pay up. UCU will ensure the lecturers who were unjustly denied proper payment for nearly 6 years will get their entitlements”.

Mr McKeown added: “It says a lot for the attitude of this group of employers towards their employees that for many young teachers – new to the further education sector ““ one of their first actions was to take their employers to a Tribunal to get their proper pay. It is also an absolute disgrace that these employers used money in legal and other fees – given them by the tax-payers – to defend an indefensible position and to cover up their failure to honour an agreement they freely entered into”.

UCU was represented in the case by barrister Michael Potter instructed by Thompsons McClure.

Kimberly Jordan.

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