I am disappointed at David McAlpine's letter (August 6), especially the excerpt that says "the unions that claim to speak for academics negotiate us on to the same pay scale as those who clean our labs and trumpet it as some sort of progress...".
While his frankness may be admirable, his attitude towards support staff is offensive. Support staff play a vital role in higher education, often for low pay, and some appreciation for the work we do would not go amiss.
Unfortunately, I fear that his is not a lone voice.
I also think he misunderstands the agreement, which is about equal pay for equal value. This does not mean that a porter would ever be paid the same as a professor - but that a porter doing equal work as another porter or someone who is ranked at the same level is paid the same money. This concept appears to be too complex for McAlpine, even though he is from an elite university like University College London.
Branch secretary, Unison
University College London