Why a whole day’s pay for a two-hour strike?

February 6, 2014

We are writing to ask Queen Mary University of London to withdraw its threat to deduct a whole day’s pay for strike action of two hours, which, if implemented, we believe would be unlawful, unjust and likely to seriously damage employment relations at Queen Mary.

As University and College Union members we are engaged in lawfully conducted industrial action as called by our union nationally, following a democratically mandated ballot in favour of action in pursuit of our pay campaign; the case for which has been fully put to the Universities and Colleges Employers Association.

We feel justified in pursuit of our pay claim, for current and future staff, and for ensuring that universities remain places that attract and retain the best qualified staff. It includes important demands about addressing gender pay inequality and low pay, and therefore is about fairness for all university staff. As such, we believe the strikes are a legitimate action to progress our claims, following the refusal of employers to negotiate further in response to the two days of action last year. Instead, the employers have imposed a below-inflation pay increase of 1 per cent, when we understand that the university sector is in good enough financial shape to be able to meet UCU demands for a fair resolution to the dispute after the falls in staff pay over the past four years.

We believe Queen Mary’s threat to deduct a day’s pay for two hours of work stoppage is an unreasonable and disproportionate response which does more harm to students than would our strike action. A reasonable response would be to seek to minimise disruption.

In addition to risking further damage to our students’ education, we believe Queen Mary’s disproportionate response – which we understand to be unique among Russell Group universities – damages the goodwill of staff, on which Queen Mary as a community relies.

Members are engaging in industrial action in good faith, following a democratically agreed instruction from the union. Queen Mary management, on the other hand, is using heavy-handed tactics at odds with our aims of supporting social justice and that risk bringing the institution into legal conflict with the UCU, potentially costing the institution large amounts of money and seriously damaging employee relations and the institution’s reputation.

Mr Jeremy Acland
Mr Nandaraja Obafemi Adewumi
Dr Paul Anderson
Mr Stuart Anderson
Mr David Andrew
Dr Rachel Ashworth
Dr Nadia Atia
Dr Elena Baglioni
Dr Judith Bara
Dr Mark Baxendale
Professor Hagit Borer
Dr Andrea Brady
Dr Caroline Brennan
Ms. Lynne Campell
Dr Liam Campling
Dr Hazel Conley
Ms. Katherine Connelly
Ms. Joanne Cooper
Ms. Laura Cox
Dr Brendan Curran
Dr Harriet Curtis
Dr Rowland Curtis
Dr Madeleine Davis
Dr Patrick Diamond
Dr Elena Doldor
Mr Martin Donkin
Mr Greg Dow
Dr Alan Drew
Professor (Emeritus) Jeff Duckett
Dr Bridget Escolme
Professor Denise Ferreira da Silva
Mr Mark Ferris
Ms. Siobhan Finney
Dr Jamie Forth
Professor Stephen Fox
Dr Clive Gabay
Mr Jack Gain
Dr Rachael Gilmour
Professor Brigitte Granville
Professor Gerald Hanlon
Professor Jen Harvie
Dr Rhodri Hayward
Professor Geraldine Healy
Dr Alfred Hiatt
Ms. Louise Holloway
Ms. Alecca Honein
Mr Tom Horner
Dr Nick Hostettler
Dr Peter Howarth
Ms Roisin Hurst
Mr William Hutton
Dr Yasmin Ibrahim
Mr Julian Ingle
Professor Bill Jackson
Professor Sukhdev Johal
Dr Domini Johnson
Dr Lee Jones
Professor Shirley Jordan
Dr Moira Kelly
Ms. Phillipa Kennedy
Professor Ray Kiely
Mr Jim Kinchesh
Dr Graham Kirkwood
Professor Gill Kirton
Dr Elias Kondilis
Dr Norbert Krauss
Dr Theo Kreouzis
Ms. Karen Kruzycka
Professor Raymond Kuhn
Dr Stella Ladi
Dr Murrough Landon
Ms. Rosemary Langridge
Mr David Lawunmi
Ms. Rashné Limki
Mr Andrew Loveland
Ms. Lynne Magorrian
Dr Giuliano Maielli
Dr Yioryos Makedonis
Dr Matteo Mandarini
Ms. Athena Mandis
Mr Chris Mansfield
Ms. Sally Mitchell
Dr Jens-Dominik Mueller
Professor Thomas Mueller
Dr Rainbow Murray
Ms. Eileen Nazha
Professor Richard Nobles
Ms. Hazel Norbury
Dr Bernard North
Mr Anselm Nye
Mr David Nye
Professor Miles Ogborn
Dr Paulo Oliva
Mr Edward Oliver
Mr Simon Pate
Dr Manuela Perrotta
Dr Elsa Petit
Dr Chris Phillips
Mr David Pick
Dr David Pinder
Dr Katy Price
Dr John Puddefoot
Dr Matthew Purver
Dr Amitabh Rai
Professor (Emeritus) Edward Randall
Dr Yossef Rapoport
Dr Christopher Reid
Dr Nicholas Ridout
Ms. Gill Ritchie
Ms. Eleanor Roberts
Professor Jacqueline Rose
Professor Mike Rowlinson
Dr Jill Russell
Dr Rodolfo Russo
Dr Richard Saull
Professor Andreas Schonle
Professor Bill Schwarz
Ms. Rebekah Shaw
Dr Robbie Shilliam
Ms. Mira Shapur
Mr Paul Sims
Dr Fabrizio Smeraldi
Dr Kelvin Smith
Dr Kimberly Soga
Dr Dan Stowell
Dr. Ahu Tatli
Professor Barbara Taylor
Dr Lasse Thomassen
Mr Harold Toms
Mr Alen Toplisek
Dr Nadia Valman
Dr Roberto Veneziani
Ms. Kirsty Wadsley
Ms. Nancy Wallace
Mr Robert Waters
Dr Jeffrey Webber
Dr Brian Wecht
Dr Martin Welton
Dr Guy Westwell
Dr Graham White
Ms. Sherrin White
Dr Tessa Whitehouse
Professor Geraint Wiggins
Professor Robert Wilson
Ms. Stacie Withers
Mr Andrew Wright
Dr Francis Wright
Dr Tessa Wright

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Reader's comments (2)

As I said in my earlier comment on Jack Grove's article, the general principle is that employers are not required to accept partial performance of a contract. Two hours withdrawn from a notional eight hours is partial performance. The water is muddied by the fact that most older universities, which I assume includes QMC, have no specified hours of work. As I see it, legally the employer may insist on full performance, I.e. no withdrawal of labour at all. Whether the institution's action is acceptable from the industrial relations aspect is another story. Dennis Farrington
What could look like a petty dispute is in my view a collision of different principles. Peter Seeger sings along with his audience: "Which side are you on?". Class struggle within UK universities is undisputable at present and a reflection of what happens in society. However, a College cannot thrive under such conditions - just look what its name means. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iAIM02kv0g

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