Strike action possible over LSE researcher pay

Unions tell university that a resolution is not possible in dispute over new career structures

August 7, 2014

Source: Alamy

Small denominations: the lack of a structure is a ‘de facto demotion’

The London School of Economics could be challenged under equal pay laws over a new career structure that unions say has left researchers in effect demoted compared with teaching staff.

The dispute over the LSE’s plan to move teaching staff to a new career structure stretches back to last year. But unions have now told the university that a resolution has not been possible, meaning that strike or legal action could now be on the table.

Since the beginning of the 2013-14 year, teaching staff have had the opportunity to become an associate, an assistant or a full professor, which replaced the title of lecturer. But no equivalent structure has been brought in for researchers.

In a letter to Craig Calhoun, the LSE’s director, representatives of Unison, Unite and the University and College Union claim that the lack of an equivalent new structure for research staff means that they have suffered a “de facto demotion”.

“Research staff are now paid considerably less than teaching-and-research staff to perform equivalent work,” says the letter, which was sent on 16 July.

Pat McGovern, chair of the LSE’s UCU branch, told Times Higher Education that this could open the university up to equal pay claims because women are more heavily represented among research staff than among teaching staff. There is a “marked difference between [the proportion of] women and men in teaching versus research”, he said.

“The general agreement among universities is that all jobs in teaching and research are graded and put on equivalent scales,” he added. “If you break that, then you are more open to claims of pay discrimination.”

Both strike action and a legal challenge were now possibilities, he said.

The letter from the unions says that they had proposed an equivalent career structure for researchers, but this had been rejected by the university.

An LSE spokesman said that negotiations over a career structure for research staff were “ongoing”.

“The school continues to take submissions on this issue and is carefully listening to the concerns raised by the unions and individual members of staff,” he said. “We look forward to reaching a positive outcome, which takes into account staff concerns, within the next academic term.”

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy