By Mathew Carr
April 30, 2023 — A portion of academics at a leading English university have agreed to donate 20% of their pay to striking colleagues as part of a plan to ramp up the pressure on higher-education institutions to offer more generous pay.
The move could ease financial pressure on striking academics refusing to mark papers, and could boost the risk universities fail to provide credentials to students in a timely fashion. That could leave them vulnerable to litigation from students and their parents, who are not getting what they paid for when they handed over student fees.
A senior academic at the university, who I won’t name for now to protect his identity, said some employers in the sector appear to have lost sight of their role in society to ensure there is more social justice and less exploitation. He says he’s agreed to donate 20% of his salary to less well paid colleagues on strike, who are under pressure because they face losing 100% of their pay for months.
Another academic from the same university said she would be willing to pay 20% of her salary, too. That willingness would depend on the conditions and the fairness and length of the deal.
Any agreement between the union and the non-striking academics would probably need to be voluntary, the second person said.
Several, or many universities, may agree such a deal, she said. It was unclear whether the collaboration between workers would help boost pay but the dispute is not just about money — but wider fairness in the system to secure more equitable pay.
Industries around the world are grappling with surging inflation, the fallout of the pandemic and war, as well as widening inequality across societies. The need for a better form of capitalism, one that values nature, the climate, health and the vulnerable, has never been bigger than it is right now.
I spoke to the press office of the university, who declined to comment immediately, out of usual office hours.
University students at 145 UK institutions are being hit by a marking boycott, as a dispute about staff pay and working conditions continues, the BBC reported on April 19.
The action by members of the University and College Union (UCU) will cover all marking and assessments, as well as assessment-related work such as exam invigilation or processing marks, the broadcaster said. The union says its boycott could effect graduations. The marking boycott begins on Thursday 20 April and will carry on until employers make an improved offer, the UCU says. Industrial action has been taking place at some universities since 2021.
Raj Jethwa, Chief Executive of Universities and Colleges Employers Association, said April 21 in a statement:
“It is disheartening that UCU,” continues to “try and push its members to disrupt students. The prolonged industrial action has been isolated and low impact, so it’s disappointing that UCU is now attempting a Marking and Assessment Boycott (MAB) at this important time for students during the academic year.”
Source: BBC, linked above
As government departments, schools and companies seek to meet the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030, there are various pools of funding they can turn to.
Certainly the most obvious is: are shareholders/owners/government departments getting too much of the revenue pie?
In other words: is the balance between workers, executives and “shareholders/taxpayers” right?
Yet another pool of finance for the SDGs might be making worker salaries more equal with managers/seniors — eliminating inequality within the organisation. Some senior workers may be paid too much and by reconfiguring toward the least-well paid, an inequality problem is solved.
Do professors really need double the salary of a basic lecturer? I’m just asking really because equality isn’t just about the richest executive vs the poorest worker. It’s about making sure no one is overpaid by too much and no one is underpaid by too much — according to the merit of their effort.
Do university administrators really deserve wages of £200,000 plus? My first academic source says “no.”
I spoke to one nurse, who said during her 30 year career only about 2 of 12 managers encountered really deserved their hefty salary premiums.
Collaboration needs to be rewarded, she said. The manager used to be seen as part of the team. Not anymore.
( tweaked some language in comment at the end to make it make more sense. more to come)