Message from the Principal: impact of industrial action and compensation
The Principal has written to students to update them on the ongoing industrial action.
Yesterday saw the end of the first period of this round of industrial action, and I am extremely sorry that this has meant some disruption for some of you.
Some students have written to me asking about compensation. We are working closely with your Heads of School/Institute to monitor the impact of the strike on different areas so that we can carry out a full assessment. We will not be in a position to truly understand the impact of the industrial action until after 19 March, when this round of strike finishes. It is worth noting that your fee is based on the delivery of your overall experience for the full duration of your course, rather than for a specific set of teaching contact hours. It also covers all the facilities that are available to you.
We are also asking Schools/Institutes to put in place arrangements to mitigate the effects of any missed teaching. I would like to reassure you that no student will be disadvantaged, in terms of assessment, by any missed teaching.
We continue to work hard to find sustainable solutions to the issues at the heart of this industrial action. The current position is summarised below:
- In terms of pay the average pay increase for all our staff is 3.5%, with staff on the lowest pay scales receiving a 4.7% increase.
- In terms of equality of pay, all our staff receive equal pay for work of equal value. To suggest that female or BAME staff are paid less than their white or male counterparts for doing jobs of equal value is simply untrue; there is no evidence to support this claim. Like most universities and organisations we do not have equal proportions of men and women and white and BAME staff at all levels of the organisation (from the lower to the higher grades) and we are working hard to address that, with a number of initiatives underway to obtain a gender and ethnic balance across all our job levels.
- In terms of casualisation, we are working hard to ensure all staff are on appropriate contracts. You may have seen claims that 63% of academics at Queen Mary are on insecure contracts. This is simply not the case: that number is based on very old data and includes, for example, the vast number of students we are proud to employ to help as student ambassadors and in other roles. As a University, we would like to maintain the option of employing our students in the future.
- In terms of pensions, changes have to be made to the USS scheme many academics are part of, as it is unsustainable in its current form. Currently, each member of staff who is part of the scheme puts in 9.6% of their salary, and the universities put in 21.1%. Benefits have remained unchanged. Changes to this scheme are negotiated, like pay, at a national level and future changes will be required to ensure that it remains sustainable and affordable.
I know that all staff, whether they are taking part in industrial action or not, are committed to providing you with an excellent student experience and are proud to be part of Queen Mary. I apologise once again to those of you who are experiencing disruption as a result of the strikes. I will write to you again when the action is over, and in the meantime do check the FAQs and please contact your Head of School/Institute if you have any questions about local changes to your timetable or other impacts.
Professor Colin Bailey, FREng, BEng, PhD, CEng, FICE, FIStructE, MIFireE
President and Principal | Queen Mary University of London | Mile End Road | London | E1 4NS