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To President and Principal Colin Bailey:
We are writing to convey our dismay that you have continued to pursue ‘business as usual’, not least with respect to making significant strike-related pay deductions from staff in the midst of a global pandemic. We understand that, in doing so, you have not only ignored protests from Queen Mary UCU but also the Heads of School in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. There is additionally a general lack of transparency over where the deductions are going and how much the process of taking these deductions is costing the university.
In the context of COVID-19, staff across the university have shown and will continue to show enormous goodwill. QMUL staff have taken on unprecedented amounts of additional work under strenuous circumstances, struggling to master new software, reconfigure assessments, manage departmental crises and care for students, while their own caring responsibilities spike (made even more challenging by the continued demand for nursery fee payments). QMUL staff, including those who are hourly-paid and/or fixed term, have turned their own homes into their workplace, effectively subsidising QM by shouldering the costs of broadband, mobile phone costs, computer equipment, utilities, etc, not only without compensation but at the same time as having their pay cut. For those without permanent and full-time contracts, these financial burdens and the associated stress and anxiety, are intensified.
Hundreds of colleagues have done all of this despite having just returned from 14 days of strike action, taken because their goodwill had already been stretched to breaking point by persistent real terms cuts to pay and pensions, spiralling workloads, casualisation, and inequalities. They are again working tremendously hard for QMUL, despite the fact that you have taken one of the most inflexible stances of any university leader on these issues, impeding resolution of the dispute and throwing away the good will the university relies upon to operate. Such decisions appear to demonstrate that your self-professed goodwill towards and care and consideration for the staff that you are ultimately responsible for are far from the reality.
Your messages repeatedly convey gratitude for our service. Your actions speak to the contrary. Other institutions, including King’s College London, have waived strike deductions as a way of rebuilding the shattered goodwill of their employees and in recognition of the huge additional work staff are undertaking. QMUL’s refusal to do this threatens the long-term sustainability of our institution.