Calling all University of St Andrews alumni

Frozen but solid on the picket line, 28th February

[UPDATE 05/03/2018: The University has backtracked on the threat of 100% deductions. Thank you to everyone who wrote, emailed, tweeted — collective action works! Please keep up the pressure on institutions still threatening staff with punitive pay-docking.]

[UPDATE 04/03/2018: The University is assuring concerned members of the public that “No pay is being deducted from staff who are carrying out all their normal contractual duties and any suggestion to the contrary is utterly false” and referring them to this document. Yes, that’s the same document that UCU are circulating. What the Principal’s Office is not making clear in their emails is that they deem refusal to reschedule a class as a breach of contract, rather than ‘working to contract’. Staff are, therefore, being threatened with daily pay-docking if they refuse to un-do the effects of the strike action by teaching the classes that were cancelled because of the strike. Whatever you want to call it, that is what is happening.]


Are you a former student of St Andrews?

Are you currently being asked for donations to fundraisers?

If so, I’d like to respectfully request that you consider telling them to bog off. Here’s why:

As you might know, university staff at 64 institutions are currently engaged in industrial action to defend their pensions against cuts of up to 60%. Yes, 60%. And no, that’s not a cut from ‘rolling in it’ to ‘comfortable’ — it’s a cut from ‘enough to live on’ to ‘WTF’. For more about the reasons for the strike (including lots of links to other resources), please see this blogpost by my colleague Ian.

St Andrews is one of the 64 universities. It’s also one of the few institutions taking the most punitive anti-strike measures possible.

In addition to 14 days of strike action, Union members are taking action short of a strike in the form of ‘working to contract’. Working to contract means: not covering for striking colleagues (i.e. not breaking the strike); not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action (i.e. not breaking the strike); and not undertaking voluntary activities (i.e. not doing all the extra stuff that’s not in your contract but which you usually do anyway because you love your job so much).

It’s considered less disruptive than strike action — after all, we’re still working, we’re just gently refusing to un-do all of the effects of the strike action we took (and to do this extra work unpaid, since we’ve already had our pay docked for those days).

So, how much pay do you think our employer is proposing to dock for a day of working to contract?

100%. Yep, you get to come into work and do your job exactly as you’re required to, for nothing.

The University of St Andrews assures us that docking our pay this way is in line with Universities and Colleges Employers Association guidance (which I can’t verify, because I’m not a member of the UCEA and they keep their ‘Guidelines on Industrial Action’ document under wraps). But it’s worth noting that St Andrews is one of very few institutions to choose to dock their employees’ pay in this way.

So, whatever other league tables St Andrews might lead, it’s up there with Sheffield and Kent in ‘Most Hawkish Anti-Strike Measures, 2018’.

Please, if you think this is wrong, write to the University. Tweet them. Email them. Please tell them you don’t want to support an institution that tries to bully its staff out of taking lawful industrial action. Please tell them you expect more from them than this. They’re not listening to us — we only make the place work, after all — but they might listen to you if they realise that their reputation among would-be donors is being tarnished.

Thank you.