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 6 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

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest