The Open University branch of the University and College Union
Please read the guidelines document and then complete the form below, completed forms with scanned pay slips should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local Hardship fund guidelines – updated 28th February 2020 and new version coming soon, May 2020
NEW - Local Hardship fund application form wave 2 - added 22 May 2020
For the November/December industrial action deductions were (against our request) taken in one lot in January 2020 salary. The Feburary/March industrial action deductions will be spread over 3 months, in May, June and July salaries.
Members should look at the UCU Fighting Fund rules as well as the local scheme to determine what overall support may be available to them.
Indeed, we anticipate for someone making a claim for both funds anyone earning less than £40,000 a year your full gross deduction will be covered. If you feel you need help but not the full amount you are eligible for consider applying for only the national fighting fund, applying for less days or making a donation to one of the funds.
If you want to donate to our Branch Hardship fund then please send an email to email@example.com pledging the amount you wish to donate, or you can make a bank payment to this account:
Sort code: 60 83 01 and Account number: 20392138
Or you can post a cheque payable to "UCU the Open University LA064 Hardship fund" to the UCU Office, Room 015, Wilson C Block, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA.
Q. Will UCU be able to support me financially, if I take part in strike action and face hardship as a result?
A. Yes. With two waves of strike action of 8 and 14 days, the local branch and national UCU appreciates that for some members this is just not a financial loss they can afford to take in full. This branch is also strongly committed to giving financial support to prevent hardship for members taking strike action. Those who need financial assistance can access both a national UCU fighting fund, and a local OU branch hardship scheme.
Q. When should I expect the deductions to be taken from my salary?
A. For this second wave of action we asked for deductions to be split over several months, which they are – being taken over the three months May, June and July. We do not know what will happen with ALs who do not have significant salary in July.
Q. Why are deductions being taken despite the pandemic?
A. We have pushed really hard to get deductions postponed until after the crisis but the OU has refused at every turn, something that we feel is extremely unreasonable and uncaring.
Q. What will I be able to claim from the UCU national fighting fund?
A. The national fighting fund works as follows:
• members taking strike action who earn under £30,000 gross per annum can claim up to £75 per day, from the second day of action taken (up to a maximum of £1100 over both waves).
• members taking strike action who earn £30,000 or over gross per annum can claim up to £50 per day, from the third day of action taken (up to a maximum of £800 over both waves).
If action was taken by the member in Dec/Jan and a fighting fund claim was made the fighting fund will pay from day 1 in the second wave.
Q. What will I be able to claim from the local OU branch hardship fund?
A. Members can apply to the local OU branch hardship fund on top of the national scheme. The branch hardship fund works as follows:
• members taking strike action who earn under £30,000 gross per annum can claim up to an additional £75 per day, from the second day of action taken
• members earning over £30,000 gross per annum can claim up to an additional £75 per day, from the third day of action taken
If action was taken by the member in Dec/Jan regardless of whether a hardship/fighting fund claim was made the hardship fund will pay from day 1 in the second wave.
Q. What rules will apply to the both the national and local schemes?
A. For both schemes:
• applications can only be made after the deductions have been made
• evidence will be required in the form of a payslip showing the deductions
• the total amount paid out across in the national scheme will be no higher than the deductions actually made for the days that funding is available (day 2 or day 3 onwards), for the local scheme is the total deduction made for all days.
For the local hardship fund, members are expected to have already applied to the national fighting fund first.
Q. Does the rule for claiming from day two/three apply to the second wave of action?
A. For the local hardship fund if you took part in the action in November/December 2019 you will be eligible from day one of the new February/March 2020 industrial action. For the national fighting fund it is also required that you made an application to the fighting fund for the Nov/Dec 2019 action.
Q. Is the funding from the fighting and hardship funds taxable?
A. No, the funding is not taxable, and does not need to be declared as income.
Q. What happens if the OU refunds strike deductions?
A. In this scenario as a branch we would ask that you return back to us any funds from the hardship fund within 3 month of the OU refunding strike deductions. You will not be required to return funding from the fighting fund but can choose to make a donation instead.
Q. What can I do now to make sure I am eligible to claim financial support?
A. Payments from both schemes are dependent on the member paying the current UCU subscription rate for their salary. If you think you might need to apply for financial support it is essential that you check as soon as possible that you are paying the correct subscription rate for the contract you currently have. You can do this here at MyUCU: https://bit.ly/2Oz7YP. In particular this may affect anyone who has changed their salary band or working hours since they joined UCU. This includes ALs, whose correct rate must reflect all modules for which they are currently contracted.
Q. Who will be involved in handling claims to the local OU branch hardship fund?
A. All applications to the local hardship scheme will be anonymised by the branch administrator before being put before a UCU branch sub-committee, including the Treasurer and Equalities Officer, for decision. No personally identifiable details of any member will be made available to the sub-committee.