QMUCU’s Response to Alleged Misinformation and Management Doublespeak

As we draw closer to our upcoming strike action, management have started to ramp up their defences. Following management’s email yesterday, some colleagues will feel nervous and unsure about why we are striking.

Here is QMUCU’s response to the supposed misinformation:

  1. Contributions have to increase even if JEP1 is applied

UCU’s position has always been no detriment. The scheme was assumed to need higher contributions because of

  • the employers funding holiday in good times at the end of the 1990s. Employees were afforded no such privilege
  • The risk adverse assumptions of the valuation
  • No smoothing of future service contributions

UCU has said that any increases over the 26% contribution should be picked up by the employer rather than the employee because of this funding holiday and declining sector staff costs (from 58% of total expenditure to 54% now—implementing UCU proposals would raise this figure no higher than 56%).

Indeed, the JEP 2 recommendations are increased reliance on employers (p.22). It is possible to maintain our current scheme in health without increases in members’ contributions.

2. “UCU’s claim that at Queen Mary, women are paid 14% less than men, BAME staff are paid 22% less than white staff and BAME women are paid 31% less than white men

These figures comes from QMUL’s own report into the gender and race pay gaps. Most of this disparity comes not from directly paying men and women, BAME and white staff differently for the same tasks, but because of the ways in which promotion practices work to the detriment of women and people of colour, and how the pay scales are capped within pay grade.

As much is clear from the data in HR’s report.

3. “UCU’s claim that 63% of academics at Queen Mary are on temporary or atypical contracts

The is the figure that QMUL themselves reported to HESA! This is a disingenuous attempt to downplay the extent of casualisation, which is widespread at QMUL, as our recent report on casualisation demonstrates.

Management is purposely trying to obscure the extent of the problem and has even gone as far as to try and deny that students paid for work (including PhD students) are employees in the first place:

“this figure is that it does not distinguish between staff and students who help with teaching, demonstrating and other activities for which they are rightly paid”

If QMUL management are so concerned about the exact figures regarding casualisation, why do they not commit to a transparent audit of casualisation across the institution?

The answer is simple: casualisation is rife at QMUL and management are not doing anything to tackle it!

4. “We recognise colleagues feel overworked, and we have established a Task & Finish group to engage with staff across the University to address the issue of workload”.

This is not UCU misinformation, but wishy-washy management speak. They have not done anything about our crushing workloads. In the School of Physics and Astronomy, the problem is so extensive that the school is undertaking a health and safety audit of staff’s working conditions to tackle the problem.

Recognising the problem is one thing, UCU is calling for concrete action!

UCU is demanding:

  1. USS implements the recommendations of JEP 1 for the 2020 valuations and restructures the governance structure of the scheme as per the suggestions of JEP 2
  2. Clear and effective agreements with the employers which tackles the race and gender pay gaps
  3. Clear and effective agreements with the employers which establish limits to casualisation
  4. Clear and effective agreements with the employers which properly manage staff workload
  5. Employers improve their below-inflation pay increase offer of 1.8%

Let your students know what is really going on. Use the slide attached to explain the strike to your lectures and seminar groups.

See you on the picket lines on Thursday!

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