Rayner shows her support for striking academics

Labour deputy leader promises to raise staff concerns about pay deductions with shadow education secretary 

二月 17, 2023
Source: UK Parliament

Labour’s deputy leader has criticised the actions of some UK universities during the ongoing industrial disputes in a rare show of support for striking academics from a member of the shadow front bench. 

Angela Rayner, a former shadow education secretary, said she was troubled that some institutions had threatened 100 per cent wage deductions unless striking staff rescheduled lectures missed during the disputes.

The University and College Union (UCU) branch at Queen Mary University of London shared a letter from the Ashton-under-Lyne MP on Twitter.

In it, Ms Rayner said she was deeply concerned by the treatment of staff at both Queen Mary and the University of Wolverhampton, another institution affected by industrial action.

Employees at both universities had been threatened with wage deductions as a result of the disruption caused by ongoing strikes over pay and conditions. Queen Mary’s UCU branch said that it had written to the senior Labour MP to also tell her about staff losing all their wages for taking part in a 21-day marking boycott.

“Action short of a strike is just that – it’s not a strike, and it’s not appropriate for employers to treat it this way,” Ms Rayner wrote.

“I’m clear, the steps being taken by these institutions is not in the interest of universities, their staff, their students or the country.”

The letter comes following three further days of strikes on 14-16 February across 150 universities over pay and working conditions.

There are five further days of industrial action planned by the UCU in February and seven more in March.

The most recent pay offer from the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, worth 5 to 8 per cent, was rejected by the UCU as being insufficient.

In her letter, Ms Rayner also writes that Labour believes UK universities should be “treated as a public good rather than a political battlefield”.

“University staff work incredibly hard, delivering high-quality education and world-leading research, and should have their work respected through proper pay and conditions,” she added.

The shadow first secretary of state said that she has informed Bridget Phillipson, the party’s shadow education secretary, of her concerns over the issues at Queen Mary and Wolverhampton, and that the front bench was looking into how it can “most effectively challenge this behaviour from the opposition”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer banned members of his shadow cabinet from appearing on picket lines with strikers, which has caused tensions with his deputy leader in the past.




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