Over 50 MPs and Peers condemn brutal university staff pay deductions 


“Members of Parliament and the House of Lords can see what many university leaders cannot; namely that these deductions are immoral, counterproductive, and have no place in our universities.”

Jo Grady, UCU General Secretary

By the University and College Union (UCU)

More than 50 MPs from five different political parties have written to the body representing university vice-chancellors to condemn threats to deduct up to 100% of staff wages for taking part in a marking and assessment boycott.  

University staff began boycotting all marking and assessments in a long running dispute over pay and working conditions on Thursday 20 April.  

However, in response employer body the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) recommended that all 145 universities across the UK make punitive pay deductions of between 50-100%. Staff engaged in the boycott are still continuing to attend work and perform the majority of their other duties.  

In the letter, MPs and Peers from the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, Plaid Cymru and SNP say there is ‘no ethical justification for making such punitive deductions, especially during a cost of living crisis.’ 

The letter warns UCEA and vice-chancellors that the threats to deduct wages do ‘nothing for the reputation of UK higher education’ and ‘put a resolution to the dispute further away.’

The letter was circulated by Beth Winter, Labour MP for Cynon Valley. It was signed by former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Green Party leader Caroline Lucas. It was also signed by prominent members of the House of Lords including former Trades Union Congress general secretary Frances O’Grady and renowned barrister John Hendy KC. 

UCU has urged vice-chancellors and UCEA to immediately withdraw the threats and return to the negotiating table. Otherwise, the boycott will continue. 

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “Members of Parliament and the House of Lords can see what many university leaders cannot; namely that these deductions are immoral, counterproductive, and have no place in our universities. UCEA and vice-chancellors need to stop with the bully-boy tactics which are damaging to staff, students, and the international reputation of UK higher education.”

Beth Winter MP said: “University staff deserve fair pay and fair terms. That is all they’re asking for. No one can disagree with that. But universities are now deepening a dispute when they should be working to resolve it. 

“Cutting 100% or even 50% of university staff pay for a marking boycott when continuing their other duties is unfair, confrontational, and will alienate staff. UCEA needs to show leadership, stop these deductions, and meet UCU at the negotiating table to reach an agreed resolution.”

You can view the full list of signatories to the letter below:

Tahir Ali MP, Labour 

Mike Amesbury MP, Labour 

Apsana Begum MP, Labour 

Olivia Blake MP, Labour 

Christine Blower, Peer, Labour 

Pauline Bryan, Peer, Labour 

Richard Burgon MP, Labour 

Dawn Butler MP, Labour 

Ian Byrne MP, Labour 

Dan Carden MP, Labour 

Shami Chakrabarti, Peer, Labour 

Jeremy Corbyn MP, Independent 

Bryn Davies, Peer, Labour 

Geraint Davies MP, Labour 

Mary Foy MP, Labour 

Margaret Greenwood MP, Labour 

John Hendy, Peer, Labour 

Wera Hobhouse MP, Liberal Democrat 

Kate Hollern MP, Labour 

Kim Johnson MP, Labour 

Ben Lake MP, Plaid Cymru 

Ian Lavery MP, Labour 

Clive Lewis MP, Labour 

David Linden MP, SNP 

Ruth Lister, Peer, Labour 

Rebecca Long-Bailey MP, Labour 

Tony Lloyd MP, Labour 

Caroline Lucas MP, Green 

Andy McDonald MP, Labour 

John McDonnell MP, Labour 

Rachael Maskel MP, Labour 

Ian Mearns MP, Labour 

Grahame Morris MP, Labour 

Charlotte Nichols MP, Labour 

Frances O’Grady, Peer, Labour 

Kate Osamor, MP, Labour 

Kate Osborne MP, Labour 

Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP, Labour 

Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP, Labour 

Liz Saville-Roberts MP, Plaid Cymru 

Tommy Sheppard MP, SNP 

Prem Sikka, Peer, Labour 

Cat Smith MP, Labour 

Zarah Sultana MP, Labour 

Sam Tarry MP, Labour 

Claudia Webbe MP, Independent 

Mick Whitley MP, Labour 

Nadia Whittome MP, Labour 

Hywel Williams MP, Plaid Cymru 

Beth Winter MP, Labour 

Tony Woodley Peer, Labour 

Featured image: UCU strike action – photo credit: University College Union.

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