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This is enjoyably strict

Two universities have threatened striking academics that they will be docked all of their pay “indefinitely” in a move that has been described by a union as “brutalising staff into submission”. The University and College Union (UCU) claims record numbers of its members, at 150 higher education institutions across the UK, went on strike on Thursday and Friday. More action is planned for Wednesday.

Academics expect to have their pay docked for the three days they are striking. However, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), a member of the prestigious Russell Group, and Wolverhampton University have caused outrage by threatening to continue docking 100% of academics’ pay unless they reschedule all the classes they have missed.

Very enjoyably strict. Note that the union calls it “immoral” so we have to assume that it is in fact legal.

QMUL has already shown it is prepared to crack down harder than other institutions on those who take industrial action over pay, contracts and pensions. In July the university deducted 21 days of full pay from more than 100 staff members, because they refused to mark students’ work in June. Many staff opened payslips with nothing in them.

Thwack, thwack, eh?

19 thoughts on “This is enjoyably strict”

  1. ’Many staff opened payslips with nothing in them.’

    Do no work, get no pay. *shrugs* Didn’t think you had to go to university to learn that…

  2. I always thought the idea of a union was that all the comrades supported each other when their employers stopped paying them to sit at home playing with… things.

  3. Seems to imply that the UCU (who are they?) doesn’t have that much cash to pay it’s members while they’re watching Loose Women.

  4. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

    For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.

    Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

  5. Mind you, this was a Middle Eastern man warning early Greek Christians about their workshy troublemakers.

    St Paul was a tentmaker, an educated tradesman probably not too dissimilar to the modern sparky or plumber in that he could find useful work wherever he went, and wasn’t dependent on an employer or master to find work for him. So he was used to living off his wits and his charm as much as his physical labour.

    It’s unknown to what degree Greek people took his Jewish entrepreneurial spirit to heart tho. Israel is still full of awesome high tech startups, Greece less so.

  6. Gertie: So has higher education been taken over by the commies or not?

    There is sadly no rationale for believing that commies and thwack-thwack don’t make excellent bedfellows.

  7. I feel sorry for the generation of undergraduates who went through the lockdowns and now have to put up with this shite. (I refer to those undergraduates who want to pursue scholarly interests not the dossers who simply want to attend a holiday camp that gives degrees.)

    I feel angry about the generation of academics who have reduced universities to intellectually vacuous grievance factories.

    I feel proud of persuading my daughter that she should on no account do a PhD and that she should simply wave goodbye to university life.

  8. ‘that if any would not work, neither should he eat.’

    I’m shocked Steve. I didn’t know the bible was so right wing.

    Maybe I should try reading it sometime.

  9. JuliaM
    “Do no work, get no pay. *shrugs* Didn’t think you had to go to university to learn that…”

    Julia, I think the argument then was because the staff claimed they were doing some work, just not all of it, but the university stopped their full pay.

    Although I’m not sure why they thought they could just choose which bits of the job they wanted to do, and marking is a pretty fundamental part of the job.

  10. Bloke in North Dorset

    I got myself in the bad books again over this story. Mrs BiND was watching the news and, being a former teacher she tends to sympathise, commented that they weren’t being paid much. I shrugged and pointed out there was plenty of people willing to do the job and if they want more money go and do what the rest of us do, find a new job.

  11. “Although I’m not sure why they thought they could just choose which bits of the job they wanted to do, and marking is a pretty fundamental part of the job.”
    Isn’t a matter of understanding what the job actually is. Let’s say one talks about swapping out an engine in a car. Is that complete if the electrics aren’t wired in? No. You don’t pay for it. The job wasn’t to change an assortment of cylinders & pistons. It was to produce a functioning car.
    The university bods seemed to have been hoist by their own petard on this. They long moved from providing an education to having a monopoly on issuing the credentials that says people have had an education. One doesn’t necessarily need a university to learn, these days. There’s no monopoly on knowledge. So if they don’t do the thing that produces the credentials, there’s no point to the exercise.

  12. As an academic, I’d love to disagree with any of the comments above but I can’t.
    Were I ever to strike (which I haven’t) I’d pick something which inconvenienced administrators or senior management (but I repeat myself), such as not filling out any forms.
    I have never understood why the students should be penalised in a dispute with management, indeed I delivered other people’s lectures in the last unpleasantness with predictable criticism from (some) UCU members and much appreciation from many students.

    To do this to students who are trying to get back on track from the waste-ground of Covid seems at best irresponsible and, more honestly, deeply vindictive.

    I note that UCU membership runs at under 50% of eligible academics (estimates vary), but they are the sole union recognised for “collective bargaining”. I have always refused to join, a position reinforced by their position on Israel and sanctions.

  13. I’ve always disliked unions* – in old days fine, something of an anachronism now, especially in higher qualified jobs.
    I remember being at university and the lecturers/professors went on strike.
    I had a conversation with one of them that went like this
    Me: I need you to have done thingy by the end of the week to allow my project to remain on schedule.
    Them: I’m on strike the rest of the week.
    Me: that’s going to scupper my project and seriously affect my outcomes/ grades
    Them: that’s the point of going on strike.

    How I heard the conversation:
    Me: I need you to do your job
    Them: lolz, no
    Me: You’re risking fucking my entire life
    Them: sucks to be you. Because fuck you.

    Clovis deserves a medal and a pay raise.

    At least where I work now, we’re not unionised. Hurrah!
    However I’m based on a client site who are…
    Luckily when they go on strike, the people who man the barricades realise that us crossing isn’t scabbery, we don’t share an employer.**

    *Theory is fine and there are plenty of unions who are ok. But a lot of them seem to use bully tactics, harassing families of management workers and such. Fuck them, and the horse they rode in on.

    **Nothing against people who want to work when the union doesn’t. Individual rights etc. I just don’t want the hassle or bricks through my car window

  14. Some bloke on't t'internet

    @ Chernyy Drakon
    Yeah, a few unions didn’t exactly do the union movement any favours. But just imagine where we’d be without them – I imagine in an environment where the employer tells you how much you’ll do and how much you’ll be paid, and if you rock the boat by asking for more or daring to suggest working practices are dangerous and could be made safe – then you’ll be tossed out and probably blacklisted by all the employers in the town.

    But as for the original story, I don’t know what sort of contract these people work under. But normally, if you turn up and do your job as you’re supposed to, then you should be paid for it. It strikes me that under normal rules, not paying for the days worked would amount to an unlawful deduction from wages – which makes me think these lecturers must have contracts that are somewhat different to what I suspect most of us are used to.

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